The photo accompanying today’s post is definitely NOT the best picture I’ve ever taken.
But it makes my heart beat with excitement and my brain fill with nostalgia.
It gives me hope and inspiration.
It awakens the force inside me.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge Star Wars fan, and I have been since 1977. I remember seeing all 3 of the original films in the theater with my brother, uncle and grandfather. Summer days were spent watching the films taped from HBO on VHS tapes (I would venture to say several hundred times each) then going outside to play. I watched them so much that I can still hear the original sounds, long before the digital enhancements and added scenes made buying a whole new set of tapes or DVDs necessary. I was always jealous of the Star Wars figures my brother got for Christmas and for his birthday, and played with them more than my dolls or my other toys.
Star Wars was my childhood.
In the 2000s, when the prequels were released, I saw each one in the theater, and while I liked them simply because of the Star Wars connection, it wasn’t the same feeling as with the original 3. In my opinion, Episode III was the best out of the prequels, and I still get chills watching Anakin battle Obi Wan in the duel on Mustafar and hearing Darth Vadar’s first breath in the mask.
Fast forward to 2012, when Disney acquired Lucasfilm and announced the future release of Episode VII. Every day after all sorts of film-related rumors were daily internet fodder, amid true facts about the production.
Here’s where the story of today’s photograph comes into play.
In July 2014, I traveled to Ireland (with my mother and my friend). Not to go off-topic, but when I was there, I felt like I was home. Ireland felt very familiar to me, like I had been there before. It was dreamy yet real, and for my entire visit, I was enchanted yet grounded. I loved everything about it, and one of my dreams is to return to Ireland someday and write. Just me and my words.
Anyway, our tour took us to the Skelligs on July 29, 2014.
Well, not really.
When we visited The Skellig Experience Visitor Centre in County Kerry, we learned about Little Skellig and Skellig Michael, the larger of the two which has a sixth century Christian monastery at its peak. However, we were told that visiting the Skelligs wouldn’t be a part of our excursion, as they were off-limits for the entire week. Some were very disappointed that we couldn’t go to see the Skelligs in person.
In contrast, I was elated. And I couldn’t believe what I was hearing from our tour director.
He said that scenes for Star Wars Episode VII were being filmed on Skellig Michael, and J. J. Abrams and Mark Hamill were both there on set. Filming. 8 miles offshore in the distance. Right there. Today.
He then asked us all to get back onto our bus, and our bus driver took us as close as we could possibly get to see the Skelligs. On the way up the steep hill, we passed the film camp on our left with tents, craft service vans, prop trucks, and other vehicles. We could see small boats going to and from Skellig Michael.
Could Luke Skywalker be on that boat, right there, to my left? Or rather, is he at the peak of Skellig Michael?
I took so many photos of Skellig Michael, and they are all pretty much the same as today’s image above. All I needed, though, was one photograph to capture this moment. This very special moment that would never happen again.
Again, I know this is not a great photograph. But hidden in that photograph, someplace, is my childhood, my will to write, my sanctuary.
After the trip, life returned to normal, and as each trailer for Episode VII was released, every theory I could come up with about the film’s plot was confirmed yet simultaneously refuted by my brother, by friends, by colleagues, and even by students. Let alone the Internet!
My anticipation grew every day leading up to the Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens release date. I proudly bought my tickets (two months early, mind you) for the 7 pm showing on December 17, a day before the actual release date.
And I went with the perfect companion: my brother. We got to the theater two hours early, along with many other die hards, and applauded as the opening crawl began.
So many collective cheers, gasps, and tears as together we watched the saga unfold before our eyes.
However, I was anxiously awaiting to see the Skelligs.
And I waited.
It took a while, but finally, there it was.
I recognized it immediately. The last scene in the movie.
I shuddered and got the chills as the scene unfolded, not only because of what was happening onscreen (I don’t want to give anything major away for those who haven’t seen the movie yet) but because I thought that maybe, on that piece of land far off in the distance, I was there.
I got the chills again during the second time I saw the movie.
And the third.
Perhaps it’s symbolic. It appears that Episode VIII might pick up where Episode VII: The Force Awakens ends.
At the Skelligs.
A perfectly symbolic place, from its real history to what it stands for in the film.
A return to the past to move on to the future. True on so many levels.
It’s true that the force inside me to write has been awakened.
Perhaps I will also return to the past to move onto the future.
Perhaps a return to Ireland is part of my journey.