I saw the original Star Wars at the movie theater when I was twelve years old and, like most boys of my generation, it blew my mind. Of course, I wanted a real light saber and I wanted to fly through space and get a piggyback ride from Chewbacca—but more than any of that, I wanted to use The Force.
For the seventeen people on the planet who somehow managed to miss out on the Star Wars phenomenon, The Force is an unseen energy field that binds all things. Most of the people in the galaxy do not feel this field on a daily basis, much less wield it. But for a few lucky warriors known as Jedi Knights, a mysterious connection to The Force renders them all but invincible: they can sense danger, lift heavy objects without touching them, and effortlessly fight off the bad guys.
That’s what I wanted.
After seeing the film, I started looking for ways to develop my own connection to this untapped power.
At school, I balanced pencils off the end of my desk, finding the spot where they were just about to fall…and then I would hold my hands over them and psychically will them to move. It wouldn’t have taken much to topple them; they were poised and ready to tip at the slightest pressure…but no matter how hard I tried, concentrating my energy, calling out to Obi Wan, sending streaming, invisible shock waves of hope until my hands ached and my eyes threatened to pop blood vessels…the pencils just sat there, tangible proof of my need for professional Jedi training.
Twenty years later, when Harry Potter rolled around, I relived all that magic again through my own kids.
Like many parents who owe J.K. Rowling an enormous debt, I read all of those stories out loud to my son, Logan, and my daughter, Jackson, acting out every line, doing every character voice, loving every minute. As I read, I could see how Harry was casting the same spell on a new generation that Luke Skywalker had cast on me and my friends so many years before. Of course Logan and Jackson wanted to go to Hogwarts and play Quidditch and hang out with Hermione drinking butter beer…but more than that, more than anything, they really just wanted to do real magic.
I knew exactly how they felt.
I believe that inside of all of us, there is a secret wish, a hunger to unlock our boundless potential, a hero waiting to be born. That’s the real reason stories like Star Wars and Harry Potter are so popular. Aside from all the cool creatures and dazzling effects, we relate to the unlikely hero who saves the world because we all want to be that hero.
Hey, if little Frodo can carry the ring to Mordor, maybe we can, too.
No matter how lowly our current status, no matter how rich or how poor, no matter what we have done or what we are currently doing...maybe, just maybe, we are the one the world has been waiting for.
And so I invite each and every one of you to be a hero for an orphaned girl. You may not be able to fly on a broom or focus your mind on a pencil and send it spinning across the room, but for one girl, you can literally change the whole world.
And what more can you expect from a superhero?