It’s easy to feel like Luke Skywalker, like Harry Potter, like Doctor Strange before he became a sorcerer. It’s even easy to feel like Anakin Skywalker. They are all full of intense, conflicting feelings and just the spark of potential – a spark waiting to be fanned into a flame by their sage, mysterious mentors.
Unfortunately for the them, and indeed for those mentors themselves, the mentors about always quickly meet an untimely demise. After all, it isn’t interesting to see the hero be led by the hand all the time. It’s at that time the hero must (ideally) internalize the lessons the mentor taught them and save the day, eventually taking on a mentee (or padawan) or their own.
Of course, in our normal, non-narrative lives, we take turns playing mentor and mentee, being conflicted and taking control. Often we must be our own mentors, carefully overseeing our own passions and whims. But that can sometimes be the hardest part of all, I think. It’s at the crux time of becoming my own mentor that I struggle.
If Anakin had managed to internalize a few more of Obi-Wan’s lessons, he might have ended up differently (it is my belief that Obi-Wan is the ultimate master mentor – even though he tragically kept getting stuck with the Skywalker boys.) In Harry Potter terms, the Gryffindor in me wants to charge ahead, fueled by my (must be) inerrant passions. The Slytherin in me even wants to stick it to the parts of me that would hold me back.
But as Falstaff says in Shakespeare’s Henry IV (now there’s a long-lived fandom): “Discretion is the better part of valor. Caution is preferable to rash bravery.” In the end, the master mentors of fandom are all about careful, thoughtful, compassionate control. While their pupils often chafe at that control, I believe Yoda and Obi-Wan would agree it’s the path to the light side of the Force. It’s also the path to the light side of magic, of the balance between us and the other (which Patrick Stewart always seems to expertly portray, no matter what the fandom.)
The wise words of the master mentors of fandom can help us gently guide ourselves into the careful, thoughtful, compassion control of ourselves which our inner padawan wants and needs – even if she won’t always admit it.