This week's Zelda's Inferno exercise: (from Karla) pick a movie that has influenced or inspired you in some way, and use that as a starting point in some fashion...I ended up with more of a short essay than a poem, but hey, the point of these exercises is that if you have words on the page, you win.
I was seven years old, in third grade, the year Star Wars came out. I can remember my father taking me taking me to see it at the Patterson one fall evening, joking not to tell my teacher that he'd kept me out late.
For the rest of my childhood, the question I asked myself in various situations was, "What would Luke Skywalker do?" It was the ur-myth of my boyhood, the pattern to countless inner monologues. Playing at being the heroes of Star Wars was our ritual, one more meaningful to us than the bit with the wine and the wafer on Sunday.
I was thirteen, about to enter high school, on the verge of manhood of a sort, when Return of the Jedi came out. I remember waiting in line with my best friend to see it, and as we filed in to the theater, we passed my middle school music teacher just coming out. We chatted for a few seconds about the film -- perhaps one of the first times I spoke with an adult as an equal.
We watched the film, and I saw my childhood hero come to within a hair's breadth of falling over into his anger in an attempt to protect someone he loves, and my childhood ultimate villain redeem himself at the last minute: a morality play more meaningful than anything teachers or priests had offered me.
And this is why sometimes when people ask me about why I practice karate, I want to say that it's the closest thing I've found to Jedi training.