There's definitely a disturbance in the Force. I am mourning the loss of one of my heroes, Carrie Fisher. I first saw her on the big screen in Star Wars: A New Hope (Episode 4) which I watched in the company of my Dad. I thought she was the awesome! I did not know at the time that she would become one of my first strong role models. As the character Princess Leia Organa, she was unlike any other princess I had encountered in the world of childhood stories. She was a leader, she was dedicated to her mission. She could engage in high level strategy, and be on the front lines. (I was seriously impressed by her handling of a blaster.) She was beautiful and intelligent.
I grew up with Princess Leia, immersing myself in the mythology of Star Wars and the unfolding of her character. Just days before her death, I saw her yet again, albeit in CGI form. Although "Carrie Fisher" was a household name in my family, I didn't really appreciate her as distinct from her role in Star Wars until I was much older. While she still appeared in films and was a screenwriter, I was particularly attracted to her work as a writer. Being a writer myself, I felt a sisterhood with Carrie Fisher.
Through her writings, Carrie Fisher revealed her struggles with drug abuse and mental illness. This is where I found the true strength of Carrie Fisher, a royalty that far exceeded Princess Leia's own formidable presence. For example, when speaking of what it's like to have bipolar disorder, she said, "I define it, rather than it defining me.” Further, in an interview with Charlie Rose in 2009 she said:
“I’m proud of myself that I’ve been able to get through this stuff, and I’ve been able to — I can’t overcome it, but I can use it. ... I have problems, problems don’t have me.”
Certainly a good lesson for each of us as we face whatever struggle is presented to us.
Last night, the day of her death, I watched Star Wars: Episode 4 A New Hope in Carrie Fisher's honor. It reminded me yet again, how blessed I am -- and we are -- to have such good role models in pop culture and in life in general. I'm grateful for the legacy that Carrie Fisher has left us, and I'll continue to marvel at her presence in this world.
In this world where we face so many joys and struggles, may we follow the awesome example of Carrie Fisher and be able to say at the end of it that we have been handed "Hope".
I'd love to hear your reflections on this remarkable woman -- or someone else who has been your hero! I welcome your comments below.