What Star Wars Can Teach Us About Aging Well

5 Lessons About Getting Older from A Galaxy Far, Far Away
StarWars
Image by zennie62 under the Creative Commons attribution license.

This week’s long-awaited premiere of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" has us at Caring excited to see the how the latest chapter of the beloved sci-fi saga will unfold, and nostalgic for the original "Star Wars" films that have touched so many lives.

And while it may’ve been the action-packed plotlines, special effects and unconventional setting that initially lured moviegoers to see “Star Wars,” it’s ultimately the characters and the life lessons imparted in the films that make them so enduring.

Indeed, all six movies in the series are chock full of unforgettable one-liners and inspirational quotes about good and evil, finding your place in the world (or galaxy) and overcoming adversity. And is it turns out, the films also have a lot to say about aging. As millions flock to the theaters to return to a galaxy far, far away, we’ve plucked out some of the most memorable “Star Wars” lessons on getting older.

1. You Can't Judge a Book by It's Cover (Or Age, or Size)

"Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is.” - Yoda

One of Star Wars’ most beloved characters is the small, green, hobbled, 900-year-old creature named Yoda. His wisdom, power and skill as a Jedi are beyond compare, despite his age and diminutive size.

Throughout the “Star Wars” saga, he shows us over and over again that it’s foolish to judge someone by their age or size. His character is a reminder that while we may lose some physical power as we age, we can actually gain mental and emotional power, wisdom and strength.

2. Stay Open-Minded

"You will find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view." - Obi-Wan Kenobi

Once you’ve reached a certain age, chances are, you’ve built up some pretty strong opinions and beliefs. While it may be tempting to cling to long-held opinions, or to believe that you’ve seen, heard and done it all, those impulses can limit your horizons.

In "Return of the Jedi," Luke Skywalker’s mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, nudges the young Jedi to remember that there are many different ways of thinking, living and being. In other words, it’s important to keep an open mind. Otherwise, you could miss out on the adventures that life still has in store – from making friends with someone you normally wouldn’t spend time with to traveling to unfamiliar places or trying out a new hobby.

3. Looks Don’t Last Forever

"When 900 years old, you reach… Look as good, you will not." -Yoda

One of the tougher parts of aging for many people to accept is how our looks change and fade – the multi-billion-dollar anti-aging industry is proof of our resistance to this inescapable fact of life. The way we look is tied up in our identity, particularly for women. So it’s understandable that those who prided themselves on their physical beauty throughout most of their lives will be unhappy with the way time has changed that physical exterior.

Yoda’s funny quip to Luke on the subject reminds us that these changes are inevitable and natural. It also underscores the importance of having a sense of humor about aging, and how insignificant physical appearance is compared to a lifetime (or in his case, nine centuries’ worth!) of relationships and accomplishments.

4. Death is Part of Life

"Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force.” -Yoda

It’s tough to swallow, but old age is the time when people are forced to come to terms with death – both their own and that of their loved ones. But Yoda's approach to death is a healthy one - he knows it's a natural part of the life cycle and encourages Luke to accept this.

It's normal to grieve, but by treasuring your memories with the people you’ve lost, their legacy can live on.

5. Share Your Wisdom

"Always pass on what you have learned." – Yoda

By the time we reach old age, we’ve built up treasure troves of knowledge gleaned from a lifetime of experience. But what good is any of that hard-earned wisdom if you can’t pay it forward, especially to younger generations? While on his deathbed, Yoda imparts this message to Luke, in the hopes that he, too, will one day use his experience to guide younger Jedis.