As You Wish…

“As you wish.”

Most associate those words with Westley’s promise to Princess Buttercup in Rob Reiner’s 1987 classic film The Princess Bride.

However, Star Wars fans like me know those three words were first uttered on screen seven years earlier in the city of Bespin, the city in the clouds. I was nine years old when I heard the voice of the most spectacular bounty hunter in the galaxy speak those words in response to Vadar’s request that there be “no disintegrations” when hunting for the Millenium Falcon. 

As a little girl in the 1970s, I wasn’t a tomboy, but I also wasn’t a “girlie girl.” I fell in the middle, a misfit of sorts, and always sympathized with those toys relegated to the Island of Misfit Toys in the classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” especially the polka-dotted elephant. It might surprise some that this blonde-haired, blue-eyed beach-loving writer and educator has had Jedi dreams and a desire to join the rebel alliance surging through her blood since childhood. I am not ashamed one bit about my love of Star Wars, which began the minute I first heard the London Symphony Orchestra blare the main title while I read the quintessential opening crawler announcing that it was a period of civil war and that “rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.”

Star Wars was deliciously different from anything I had ever experienced and provided me with a new way of seeing things. It was the first time I had been exposed to a strong woman who wasn’t being molded into a future wife or mother. Leia was a princess, that’s true, but she had a purpose much greater than her title. She wasn’t searching for a prince or seeking admiration. Instead, she was fighting for a cause she believed in with fierce determination and ultimate fearlessness.

Leia was my inspiration, she still is, and I adore her. 

I’ve learned life lessons from all the characters in the Star Wars franchise, but there’s one who stands above the rest, one who has lived in my heart ever since I first witnessed his on-screen swagger and cunning dauntlessness. 

Boba Fett.

The baddest-ass misfit mercenary ever to travel to the Outer Rim and beyond. 

Of course I bought into the supposed myth that after falling into the Sarlacc in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, the Sarlacc spit Boba out because it could not digest his armor, a myth that circulated well before the Internet existed. There was no way someone as bold as Boba would meet his fate in such an undignified manner! I also loved seeing him as a youngster in Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones despite the devastating loss of his father, Jango, at the hands of Mace Windu, and was ecstatic at finding him added to Star Wars: A New Hope in 1997

Fast forward to the here and now. 

With the pandemic clouding our world over much of the past two years, Disney+ has provided me with a lot of levity and plenty of escapes from reality through exclusive series that tell the stories of many favorite Star Wars and Marvel characters.

Case in point: The Mandalorian. Din Djarin and Grogu are one hell of a duo, but my heart yearned to see my boy again…and wouldn’t you know, my wish was granted! I knew those were Boba Fett’s boots in Season 1, Episode 5 of The Mandalorian, and when my long-lost hero and his iconic ship Slave-1 finally graced the screen in Season 2, I went absolutely bananas. 

Boba the freaking Fett. 

He lived.

Or should I say, he lives.

Seeing him on-screen again (excellently portrayed by the ever-talented Temuera Morris, who played Jango in Attack from the Clones) in several Season 2 episodes with Fennec Shan at his side as they helped Din and Cara Dune protect Grogu pleased me to no end, but then the unbelievable happened: a credits scene in The Mandalorian’s season 2 finale episode depicted Boba and Fennec taking over Jabba the Hut’s throne on Tatooine then revealed that The Book of Boba Fett would be coming soon.

Holy. Freaking. Crap.

As I wished.

A little over a year has passed since that monumental Mandalorian moment, and today, thanks to the commitment and imagination of Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni (and a host of others), today I’ll be watching the season premiere of The Book of Boba Fett through the innocent eyes of that little, blond-haired nine-year-old. 

He is Boba Fett, and from what I’ve been told, he intends to rule with respect.

Today my dreams come true, and I shamelessly become a child once again.

Thanks for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With love and gratitude,

Jill

“As You Wish” was posted on jillocone.com on December 29, 2021, with parts of it originally published in “A New Hope, Indeed,” on December 14, 2019 . Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any employer. Copyright 2021, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

The Gift of the Forever Moment

If you happened to catch any of last night’s Field of Dreams game coverage, where the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox played the first ever MLB game in Iowa to honor the lasting legacy of the film “Field of Dreams,” perhaps you shed a tear at some point like I did.

Credit: Getty Images/Stacy Revere; posted by Newsday.com

Hopefully, you didn’t shed a thousand or more (and counting, I might add), like me.

Last night’s game was a throwback to a time when life was simpler and the good outweighed the bad. We collectively paused to enjoy a ball game between two teams, but there was more going on than just baseball.

And just like in the movie “Field of Dreams,” more was happening than just what we saw on the field.

It was a catharsis, an awakening, an emotional roller coaster ride highlighting the power of the present moment sprinkled with nostalgia and resulting in an experience unlike that of any other game I’ve ever watched.

The awe and wonder and excitement on each player’s face as they strolled around the original field and house from the movie set and the cornfields surrounding the play field… grown men looked like children with boyish grins full of innocence and authenticity, no matter which uniform they wore or how hard life may have treated them in the past.

We escaped society’s acrimony and noise for a few hours and, instead, focused on the gift of the forever moment and the treasure of a single day, as Kevin Costner so eloquently narrated in his introduction

Our imaginations are infinite..

Sculpting a baseball diamond from a farmer’s field in Iowa.

Longing for summer as seasons are painted on its canvas.

Once this game and this land touches you, the wind never blows so hard again.

“Hey, Dad?” Want to have a catch?”

“I’d like that.”

I’m Kevin Costner, and on this field, we once made a movie about dreams … of baseball and years gone by, and much more.

A tale of love, family, character.

The treasure of a single day.

America has embraced the heroes of our youth for over a century. Those who ran on grass so green it took your breath away…touching bases as white as clouds

Tonight, we pause time. 

In the warmth of August, two major league teams gift us the forever moment; the White Sox, the Yankees.

Come to our Field of Dreams and play ball.

Baseball united us last night, no matter what team we religiously cheer for, with every at-bat and every home run hit into the cornfield.

My team should have won, as the Yankees had the lead in the top of the ninth inning, but a swing by the Sox’s Tim Anderson scripted a Hollywood-style ending: a walk-off two-run homer to win the game in the bottom of the ninth, complete with fireworks.

Despite my team’s loss, I cheered and clapped and wept tears of joy because of the moment’s incredible magnitude, a culmination of the night’s immense emotions and how baseball, yet again, brought us all together.

“And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.” – Terence Mann

It was baseball that gave us something to look forward to, a diversion from the dark days after 9-11, when the crack of Mike Piazza’s bat as he launched a home run that was heard around the nation and when Derek Jeter became “Mr. November.” Sidebar: I highly recommend watching ESPN’s “30 for 30: First Pitch,” if you have already seen it, which tells the story of President Bush throwing the first pitch at Yankee Stadium during the 2001 World Series. Politics aside, it’s one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen, one that truly captures the gamut of emotions we all felt as we tried to move on with our lives after such a horrific event.

It was baseball that provided a reprieve from lockdown last summer as MLB players were some of the first professional athletes to return to the field. Even with silly cardboard cutout fans filling some of the empty seats and piped-in fake fan noise, we looked to the return of baseball games as a step towards returning to normalcy.

It’s baseball stickers that fill my planner every autumn when the postseason, my favorite sports time of the year, begins. Even when my Yankees do not move on or outright miss the playoffs, I root-root-root for sometimes the home team and sometimes the visiting team as each player on every field pursues their childhood dream of winning the coveted world series ring. 

Back to “Field of Dreams”…

The movie’s premise about a ball field in the middle of a cornfield where ghosts convened to play America’s game is incredibly unbelievable, but that’s the beauty of the film.

Many of our dreams seem unbelievable, like Ray’s, but he did the impossible, the unconventional. He followed his dream, built the field, and they came.

Ray Kinsella made the unbelievable believable.

And 33 years after Ray built his field of dreams on the big screen, Kevin Costner led the Yankees and Sox players onto a neighboring field in front of 8,000 fans in the bleachers and millions of us at home, all because of the lasting impression of a single film with a universal theme.

How many of us can say that about our own dreams? How many of us are willing to put in the work necessary to do the unbelievable like Ray did and make our dreams a reality?

In the quintessential ending scene of the movie, Ray Kinsella and his father, John Kinsella, finally have a catch with each other, making their private personal dreams come true.

How many of us have an ongoing list of the undone things in our life? How many of us, when presented with the opportunity, will make our undone things done?

Behind Ray and John, a line of headlights stretching for miles makes its way to the field.

Ray built it, and not only did he come, but they came. How many of us actually listen to our intuition and attempt to do the impossible?

The Field of Dreams game was so much more than a game.

It was, indeed, like I was dipped in magic water.

It was a pause in time, a gift of the forever moment that amplified the power of the present moment.

It was a reminder of who I used to be, who I am, and most importantly, who I can be.

It was a reminder to love unconditionally and to always treat others with kindness and compassion.

It was a reminder to never lose that sense of wonder or awe in believing each day, each moment, is a treasure.

It was a reminder of a simple moment’s lasting magnitude, such as having a catch with someone we hold dear, or spending time with those we love doing what we love.

It was a reminder to pursue my dreams, no matter how far-fetched they may seem, and to believe in the dreams of others.

It was a reminder of all that once was good and could be again.

Thanks for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With gratitude,

Jill

“The Gift of the Forever Moment” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on August 13, 2021. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any employer. Copyright 2021, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

Long Live The King

I awoke yesterday morning to pouring rain pelting the house and a slew of notifications that had nothing to do with COVID, the Yankees, or politics, notifications that stabbed my soul and made me audibly gasp with sorrow.

“Actor Chadwick Boseman dies from colon cancer at age 43”

Rarely does a celebrity’s passing shatter my core, although I freely admit I cried when Carrie Fisher, Chris Farley, Robin Williams, and Tom Petty died.

This one, though. 

This one walloped my heart hard as the clouds outside my window wept all day long.  

Not T’Challa.

T’Challa, the soft-spoken king who packs as much strength and fierceness as any of his fellow Avengers.

T’Challa, the wise and noble warrior with unmatched agility and one hell of a necklace.

T’Challa, one of many legendary and inspirational characters brought to life on the screen by the extraordinarily talented Chadwick Boseman.

Chadwick Boseman grew up in South Carolina and wrote his first play when he was a junior in high school. He graduated from Howard University in 2000 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Directing. As a college student, actress Phylicia Rashad not only was one of Boseman’s professors but also a mentor. She secured funds for him and fellow students who had been accepted to the prestigious Oxford Mid-Summer Program of the British American Drama Academy in London. 

After earning his degree, Boseman taught drama and wrote several more plays while securing small television roles. However, in 2013 he landed his breakout role as Jackie Robinson when he was cast as the trailblazing professional baseball player in the film 42.

The roles kept on coming, and over the course of the next seven years, he would portray several other characters, most notably Thurgood Marshall and James Brown.

So, that’s Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, and James Brown.

Three strong African-American men who changed history portrayed by an African-American man who also changed history and redefined the word “hero.”

Then there’s The King.

King T’Challa, also known as Black Panther, a hero in every sense of the word whose inspiration transcends race, age, and gender.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw King T’Challa/Black Panther on screen. While I admired his dignified demeanor, his comforting accent, his care for his people, and his badass maneuvers, what made the biggest impact on me was the aura of goodness surrounding T’Challa that I could actually feel as I watched the movie, an aura undoubtedly created by Boseman through the phenomenal application of his craft. And every time I’ve seen T’Challa/Black Panther on a screen, I’ve experienced that same feeling.

And all the while, Boseman kept his diagnosis quiet. 

We’ve come to learn through his passing that, over the last four years, Boseman not only filmed ten films during and after surgeries and treatment, he visited children who were suffering from cancer while he quietly battled the disease himself.

Nobody knew.

Talk about noble.

Boseman spoke at the Howard University Commencement in 2018 at the height of his health battle. It’s an amazing speech in its own right, but as someone who has long struggled to find purpose, the speech’s closing speaks to my heart:

…You would rather find purpose than a job or career. Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfill. Whatever you choose for a career path, remember, the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose. When I dared to challenge the system that would relegate us to victims and stereotypes with no clear historical backgrounds, no hopes or talents, when I questioned that method of portrayal, a different path opened up for me, the path to my destiny.

You can read and/or view the entire speech here.

In the thousands of tributes posted within the last 36 hours, Chadwick Boseman was over and over referred to as the personification of grace and dignity.

That’s a perfect summation of this amazing human, who ironically passed away on Major League Baseball’s annual Jackie Robinson Day.

Death makes us all examine the trajectory of our own lives a little closer. When we choose to adjust our journey and live a better life as a result, that’s how we honor the legacy of those who made a difference in our lives and in our world.

I look at how Chadwick Boseman lived his life and all he accomplished despite the shitty hand that life dealt him. He never sought attention for himself but, instead, redirected the attention on others. He made people feel good about themselves and showed us what it meant to live in grace and goodness. 

Looking forward to my own future, I have no excuse for not aspiring to accomplish my goals. I will keep Chadwick Boseman’s inspirational example of dignity and perseverance close to my heart as I allow destiny to reveal the path to my purpose.

What better way to honor the legacy and the impact of a true King?

Thank you, Chapman Boseman. 

Rest in power, King.

Wakanda forever.

Wakanda forever, indeed.

Thanks for joining me on my journey. I am glad you’re here.

With gratitude,

Jill

“Long Live The King” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on August 30, 2020. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any employer. Copyright 2020, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.