Courtesy LenovoI waited 40 years for this moment. That’s how long it’s been since I first sat in a movie theater and I was transported to a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Problem was, though, that I wasn’t really transported anywhere and when the movie was over, I was still in a galaxy very near and very right now—one with Tab cola, bowl haircuts, Kenny Rogers songs and incredibly lax seatbelt laws. How, I ask you, was a person supposed to become a Jedi in a place like that?
The answer—you couldn’t. No matter how hard I concentrated on my glass of KoolAid, it wouldn’t move across the table to my hand. I couldn’t convince Jill Wolfe that I was the droid she was looking for even if I did wave my hand in front of my face the way Obi Wan performed Jedi mind tricks; and there were only so many times I could talk Steve Morris, the kid who lived two doors down, into using sticks as light sabers. (Still sorry about that thing with the nose, Steve!) So, by the time 6th grade rolled around, I gave up on my childhood dream of becoming a Jedi and moved on to more important things, such as, Dungeons and Dragons and riding my bike in the street over homemade ramps without a helmet.
Courtesy LenovoAnd then, like a disturbance in the Force, I felt it. My childhood dream. It was about to come true. It came in the form of a black box (the dark side, I thought, but let’s give it a chance). It was an augmented reality game, Star Wars Jedi Challenges by Lenovo. It promised to make me a Jedi, and I believed it. I felt the Force flowing through me. Yes, I thought, now I will be a Jedi! (If the idea of a middle-aged suburban dad becoming a Jedi master seems humorous, you’ll enjoy these corny Star Wars jokes.)
When it first arrived, I was torn between ripping open the packaging as fast as possible or showing the patience and training of a Jedi. I could hear Yoda’s lines about Luke Skywalker from The Empire Strikes Back: “He’s too old, yes, too old to begin the training.” And I thought that was me, yes, way too old. I was definitely too old to be a padawan. Heck, I was too old to stay up past 10:30 p.m. But then more of Yoda’s words came to me, “Do or do not. There is no try.” Yes, it’s never too late to try. And anyway, I wasn’t the one who failed to defeat the Emperor in the Imperial Senate Chamber way back during those awful prequels like a certain tiny green Muppet, so who are you to judge me Yoda? I’m doing this.
Courtesy LenovoAnd then I did. I strapped on the augmented reality goggles, downloaded the game app, attached my smartphone, and charged everything up. Patiently, very patiently, meditating like a true Jedi, and then, at long last, I was ready to begin the training. Ah, the lightsaber, modeled after Luke’s, felt as if it were molded for my hands. I wore headphones (my own) to block out home noises and get the full immersive experience. I triggered the authentic-feeling light saber … and that sound, oh that beautiful sound, as the saber came to life. And I was there. I was truly there. At long last, a lightsaber in my hands and I was going to battle stormtroopers and Sith lords!
And then I heard my kids laughing as they were taking videos of me in my gear swinging at nothing, and then posting them on Snapchat for their friends to be amused. This did not help my concentration. I banished them from the room. My frustration and anger was borderline Dark Side, but sometimes, you just have to go with your feelings.
And then back to the training. I have to admit that my expectations were fairly low, but without the threat of a ‘tween Snapchat audience, the effects of the game were outstanding. I was instantly transported into the world of Star Wars. I wasn’t just watching it, I was there participating. At long last, I was training to become a Jedi.
Courtesy LenovoMy first task was using my lightsaber to deflect shots from stormtroopers. And just like a true Jedi I deflected them back at the shooters and it was exhilarating, kind of embarrassingly so, but nevertheless, it was. And then I got to face the Sith lords. Oh yes, this was the moment I had been waiting for, to test my powers against the dark forces of the galaxy. And there he was—the ultimate bad guy. Darth Vader. He flickered to life in the room. That signature raspy breathing filled my ears. He triggered his lightsaber and stalked in my direction. I had been waiting for this moment for so long. (I already knew all these mind-blowing Star Wars facts—do you?)
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I still remembered that I was a grown man in my basement playing a video game, but when Darth Vader moved toward me, I actually was a little scared. I backed up. And then he started swinging his saber at me. I dodged, blocked, ducked, counter-attacked … and then I was dead. I tried again. This time I tried to listen to the advice of the game: Relax, block the enemy before attacking. And then I was dead. Again.
One thing I didn’t realize about training to be a Jedi is that it’s hard work. By this point, I was sweating. My heart rate was up. My fitbit watch alerted me to a new activity that had burned over 100 calories. And I’m pretty sure I strained a hammie. I had to stretch it out before going again. But this time I won. Yes, Darth Vader was defeated, and the galaxy was safe again. I took a nap.
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