In the movie Clerks, Randal walked into the Quick Stop after watching Return of the Jedi to discuss a revelation with his friend (and Quick Stop employee) Dante. The conversation they had is one of my favorite scenes in the whole movie.
Randal asked Dante if he preferred Jedi or Empire Strikes Back but was insulted when Dante answered Empire.
"Blasphemy." was Randal's response.
Dante explained his reason: "Empire had the better ending. I mean, Luke gets his hand cut off, finds out Vader's his father, Han gets frozen and taken away by Boba Fett. It ends on such a down note. I mean, that's what life is, a series of down endings. All Jedi had was a bunch of Muppets."
When looking at the story of our lives, most guys want to go slay a dragon, return to their castle, and kiss the girl. Unless you're me. I wanted to blow up the Death Star, fly back to Endor, and party with the Ewoks. Bunch of Muppets.
We all want the happy ending. We want to walk into a room and hear the cheers. "Hail the conquering hero!"
What do you do when you don't get that nice, neat, and victorious conclusion? You lose your hand. You find out the greatest villain in the universe is your dad. You tell someone that you love them and they reply, "I know." You're dipped in carbonite and taken away by a bounty hunter. End scene. Roll credits. What then?
Because that's where I am. Where I feel my efforts have been in vain. That what I have been hoping and praying for has been answered with a brash, insulting, and irrevocable no.
It's too easy to be trapped by that thought that life is nothing more than a series of down endings. We can't stay stuck there. Like Han frozen in carbonite, life doesn't stop with the down ending. There has to be something more. Something better.
How do we get there?
We must remember that the down ending isn't really the end. The Star Wars Saga didn't finish with Empire. That was only the second act in a three act play. Jedi was the ending. Victory and celebration and redemption was the true ending. Those down endings were a segue to something else. Those down endings were challenges to overcome. It's the long dark night of the soul.
Discouraged, bruised, wounded. To carry on, we must recognize that our journey doesn't end here.
I know I'm not alone. I've talked with several who are right there with me. Right now. Those who feel like they're at the end of their ropes. Who feel burdened by guilt and shame. Who view themselves as screwups. Who look at this moment in time as another down ending.
Let me be the first to tell you that the story continues. You are Han Solo. You are Princess Leia. You are Luke Skywalker. You are Chewie, Lando, Wicket. A better ending is coming. You (and me) in our brokenness, in our failures, in our defeats, we are still the heroes of our stories.
If that's you, please feel free to leave a comment. Send me a message through Facebook or Twitter. I would like to encourage you to keep going. I know my story is not over. Neither is yours.