Like thousands of others, I grew up playing with Star Wars toys and loving the original trilogy. I would go so far as to say that Star Wars in many ways was the definitive work of fiction in my youth, and as such continues to inspire and influence me today. And again, I am not alone.
At the Pacific Science Center (@PacSci) in Seattle, there is currently a show about Star Wars and modern science. It’s a traveling exhibition that has already been in several cities across the US, and I was thrilled to go see it. Science fiction has always influenced real-world scientific invention, yet this is a rare chance to see the two displayed side by side. It’s a wonderful example of how art spills over into both industry and education.
The exhibition also features work stations, where you can build your own droid, try a hover chair and more. The big draw is a trip in the Millennium Falcon, where you actually get to sit in a mock cockpit of the legendary space freighter and take a short trip into space while Anthony Daniels (C3P0) narrates the journey. It’s like a mini planetarium theater and worth the $3.
But let’s not kid ourselves. The real reason I wanted to go, was to get a first hand glimpse of some Holy Relics. I speak of course of actual movie props and costumes, like Luke Skywalker’s land speeder and Darth Vader himself. The folks at Pacific Science Center were kind enough to let me come take a few photos before the place filled up with visitors. John Williams’ iconic soundtrack was piping from hidden speakers, and I almost felt like I was in a temple of sorts.
When I came face to face with Yoda, I was literally breathless for a moment. It’s not that I believe in the Force or anything, but Yoda somehow embodies the essence of Star Wars and his backwards one-liners do offer wisdom. Do or do not, there is no try. That line has been a go-to motivator for me for as long as I can remember. Like the somewhat longer “fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering” – a gentle encouragement to keep an open mind and not fear that with which we are unfamiliar.
As I was wrapping up, I saw the first guests arrive. Groups of kids and adults both with their eyes open wide and smiles on their faces. I was told this exhibit draws more adults than usual. I replied that surely many who brought their kids here, did so as an excuse to come see it themselves. For me, it was first and foremost a visit to what I can only describe as an early muse and it felt amazing to get in touch with such a basic source.
I recommend going if you’re one of the thousands like me who grew up on Han Solo’s roguish charm, Leia’s retorts and Luke’s whining. And if Star Wars isn’t your thing, consider seeking out whatever did influence you as a kid. It is a remarkably inspiring experience.
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