Life lessons from The Empire Strikes Back [part 1]: The rule of expectations.


The sad truth is that while I steadfastly maintain my claim from this series’ intro, The Empire Strikes Back is still an incomplete movie. That is to say, its effect would likely be entirely lost on me without its predecessor, the original Star Wars.

Star Wars was all THE rage on the schoolyard in the fall of 1977…and 1978. And yet I hadn’t seen it. The school I attended (a free-spirited private school that my parents hoped wouldn’t stifle my creative nature like my first-grade public school experience had threatened to) had the Marvel Comic edition collecting the first five issues that I read cover-to-cover over and over again.

Star Wars and comics. Two great tastes that went great together.

I don’t believe my little brother and I saw Star Wars until either the very end of its theatrical run (when it reached the cheap seats theaters) or during its re-release (there WAS one of those, right?) in 1979.

(In fact, I wonder if it was the latter, which made me aware that a sequel was even coming. I just don’t recall anymore.)

A classic fantasy of good triumphing over evil in science fiction clothing, Star Wars fascinated and thrilled like no other movie before — and set me up for the great sucker punches to come in its 1980 followup. (More on that in future installments, of course.)

Here, I also owe a great debt to a fellow summer daycare kid whose name and face are thoroughly lost to me. Although a little bit younger, he’d seen The Empire Strikes Back already while I was waiting for my birthday in late June. I excitedly asked him some pointed questions that absolutely boggle my mind now:

Me (in early June 1980): “Does Luke Skywalker lightsaber-fight Darth Vader?”

Kid: “Yeah, he does.”

Me: “Does he win?”

Kid: “Yeah, he chops his head off!”

Satisified with these spoilers*, the going-on-nine-years-old Khari is ready for the ultimate triumph of the fair-haired good guy over the ultimate black-clad bad guy when he goes to see The Empire Strikes Back a few weeks later.

What a sucker. 🙂

This little episode, and the experience of seeing Star Wars, highlights the first life lesson I learned from The Empire Strikes Back: expectations have a way of coloring and affecting everything we do or experience. But as I intend to point out, this lesson cannot be applied in isolation from the others. Stick with me as I reminisce further in this series.

* Perhaps having seen the original Star Wars with full knowledge of the plot and enjoying it anyway is the reason I pressed for this information. But I’m sure glad that the kid either misremembered or told only half-truth.


One Response to “Life lessons from The Empire Strikes Back [part 1]: The rule of expectations.”

  1. Kris G Says:

    I was reading the comic book adaptation, and my cousin stopped me after he finished. He wouldn’t let me finish reading it, he said because the movie was coming out in a few days.

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