I’ll be celebrating another birthday early next week. Another trip around the sun as they say. I’ll be 47 which feels like one of those ages that is insane for me to process. It’s not one of the bigger ones… 18…21…25…30…40..50..60… but for some reason it feels like one of those ages a younger version of me wouldn’t even understand. Not that I’m a wild child and “never expected to make it this far”, but more in the idea of how did I get to be 47? It sometimes feels like it was only yesterday that I was back in college, wondering when that portion of my life was going to end so that I could move on to that next stage of things.
My first memory is when I was 4ish. I remember seeing Star Wars at a drive in theater. I remember the moment the movie started and the space battle and the Star Destroyer that ate up the majority of the screen.
And I don’t know if that is the truth.
At some point it switches, right? Early on in life, we are in a hurry to get older, because through getting older we obtain a greater freedom. You get older and you get to stay up late. Stay home by yourself. Learn to drive. Go to college. Get a job. Get married.
And so on.
Sometime in there you need to start enjoying the current status you have obtained. Somewhere in there you need to make sure that you aren’t still living for the weekend. That you are happy with the life you have chosen (or perhaps the life that chose you). It means taking a little time to make sure you appreciate where you were, with those little dreams and big dreams and everything else in between. From that very first memory you have all the way to the next time you lay your head down to sleep. Every little moment has led you to this place. This moment in time. This mental state. For good or bad, we are what our experiences are.
You see, the movie certainly could have been playing a drive in theater in 1979. But there is another part of me who wonders if my mind constructed this memory from pieces of a dream. But then I remind myself that I would have to had seen it on the big screen back then. And I know I saw Empire Strikes Back (twice in the theater) and knew what it was. Knew what had happened before.
But I never can truly know, right?
We can never know where our path is going to go. Sometimes you need a kick in the ass to actually get moving on your dreams.
About 13 years ago, I was laid off.
I had dabbled with ideas for short stories. Dabbled with ideas for things that might make a cool novel. I’d even written some short comic stories.
I’m not sure if it would have become much more than that had I not been laid off. If my wife hadn’t told me to “just write it already”.
Star Wars, like so many others, has become a part of my life. My history. My lexicon. I remember the Special Editions and taking my future wife to see the movies for the “first time”. The moment in the theater with my friends as the opening scroll of the Prequels began and we all cheered.
Did that all happen because its my first memory? Or was I destined to fall in love with those movies?
Did the words I’ve written happen because I was laid off? Or would I have always found my way to writing?
I hope that I would have found my way to where I was writing in some capacity, but I was already in my 30s at that point and hadn’t pulled the trigger. So what makes me think that I would have changed my path.
But I grabbed the opportunity.
So I take another pass around the sun. Some memories as fresh as when they were made and others buried somewhere deep in my subconcious, waiting for the moment to come back to the surface to remind me of a lesson I need to learn, straighten out my current path, or just give me a smile on a rough day.
John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.
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