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What Carrie Fisher and Princess Leia Have Taught Us

Artwork by Craig Davidson

The death of Carrie Fisher affected me much more to me than I expected.  I heard of her heart attack while on vacation. But I was like many others and thought, “She’s tough. She’ll pull through.” I also thought, “There’s no way 2016 would go that low.”  It went low, punched me directly in my gut, right where it hurts the most. By taking away my rebel hero.

I am a diehard Star Wars fan. I’m planning my first Star Wars Celebration and I live and breathe Star Wars every day. Since her death, I’ve received text messages from friends and condolences from people at work. This isn’t just another celebrity death for many Star Wars fans. Taking Carrie from this earth has taken one of our role models.

Upon reflecting on Carrie’s life and the many gifts she gave us, I came up with this…the many things we can take away from Carrie’s life and what we can take away from her iconic role as Princess Leia.

 

1. Be a rebel and seek out the greater good

Our first introduction to Princess Leia, she’s arguing with a dark and sinister villain. In the face of the Lord Vader, who holds a powerful weapon to wipe out entire planets, she defies him. She does not roll over, become sullen after the defeat of Alderaan.  Once she’s rescued by Luke and Han, she’s thinking of her next moves to defeat the Empire. She taught me about standing your ground in the face of fear, hate, and uncertainty. Our voice may not always carry the strength as Lord Vader but with endurance, the voice echoes.

2. Love. Just love. 

The relationship between Leia and Han isn’t perfect. Yet it’s a romance we admire. We want someone to be your best friend and challenge you daily. We see their flaws and they see the flaws within each other. But we love them nonetheless and they love each other nonetheless.
In “The Force Awakens,” we see their reunion. We get the impression that despite having a child, they could not make it work. And that’s okay, too. They still have mutual respect and work together for their common goal, finding their son. As a child of divorce, this hits home. You want to see your parents get along, even when love is gone. Han and Leia are one of those pop culture relationships we still admire. We now know that they didn’t make it to “happily ever after” but hell, wasn’t it worth the ride?

3. Defy prescribed roles.

Princess Leia may be a princess but she’s not your average Disney princess. She’s not always proper. She ridicules Han by calling him a “scruffy-looking nerf herder.”

Princess Leia was much like Carrie and Carrie was much like Princess Leia. It’s hard to tell what sassy remarks are from her character or herself. We’re not all Disney princesses. Some of us don’t want to be. In fact, we feel much more comfortable wearing pants instead of gowns. And when we see Carrie Fisher talking about her life in a bold and truthful way, we see other fans being empowered and following her lead.
Carrie Fisher even raised her own child to not think of gender roles, according to Huffington Post. Carrie was an advocate in so many ways, probably more than she realized herself.

4. When all else fails, laugh.

Carrie Fisher was very public about her mental illness. The only way she overcame her greatest obstacles was to make light of the topic. Her books and her one-woman-show, “Wishful Drinking,” were her ways of coping with her demons. Carrie could make people laugh by exposing the worst parts of herself, her insecurities, and her mental health. She has brought laughter to a topic that we are all avoiding. In some ways, it makes it easier to understand. Hopefully we see the issue of mental health being addressed and others being more supportive.

5. Surround yourself with positivity.

Part of what I love about Star Wars is the community it creates. Yes, there are many diehards who will argue with you until they’re blue in the face. It’s ridiculous to some. But we’re passionate. And this passionate community will often come together and support one another. Just yesterday a member of one of the Facebook groups I belong to, posted that he’d be taking a posterboard and post a memorial in front of the Yoda statue at the Lucasfilm HQ in San Francisco. He asked those who wanted our name on that posterboard to comment. I was one of the first to comment.
This person is a stranger to me. But because he was going to pay his respects, he wanted others to do so as well, even if we are miles away. This is the type of community I am proud to be part of. It may seem like a small gesture but when there’s so much negativity in the world, these small acts shine through the darkness. And, wasn’t that what the rebellion was built on? That small glimmer of hope? Hope that can save a galaxy. Maybe we aren’t so doomed. Let’s carry the spirit Carrie has shined on us forever. May the Force Be With You, Always.
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