Life is complicated. Life is hectic. Life is occasionally too much. Not only do the obligations and requirements of the day to day consume us, we must also, as concerned citizens of the nation and of the world, filter through the masses of information heaped upon us from moment to moment, cycle to cycle, to determine what will affect us and those we love now and what may be important in the future. The modern world demands much of us and we have no choice but to give it if we wish to thrive, wish our children to thrive.
We forget to eat, let alone enjoy the moment or the taste. We drift off while watching TV shows for which we’ve carefully carved out half an hour. We end up asleep with books or tablets on our faces. We lose the ability to enjoy a long awaited film without immediately adding “but” or “actually” to the post-viewing conversation.
We forget to stop.
We have forgotten how important a few moments, drinking bad tea, with someone dear to us can be.
Chirrut Îmwe and Baze Malbus have not.
Star Wars: The Guardians of the Whills (Greg Rucka, 2017) is a gorgeous book. The language flows, sophisticated and perfectly simple simultaneously. It is the story of Rogue One‘s temple guardians before they met Jyn Erso or Cassian Andor, of their transition from guerrillas on Jedha to members of the Rebellion. The tale is all the more poignant and bittersweet for knowing the men’s ultimate fates.
While I love Guardians of the Whills‘ main through plot and the larger constellation of character interactions, my favorite moments throughout were the smaller, softer ones: moments during which we see Chirrut and Baze checking on friends, playing with children, and sharing tea. Tea that Baze hates with an unrelenting passion but which he sits and drinks with Chirrut because, despite the Imperial invasion of their home, the oncoming war, their self-appointed commitment to protect Jedha’s innocents, amid blood and death and hate, doing so allows each of the two men to pause briefly, with someone he loves, to enjoy precious quiet and one another’s company.
For Baze to set down his cannon and be Baze Malbus who hates the damn tea. For Chirrut to set down his staff and be Chirrut Îmwe without concerning himself with expectations or assumptions.
To collect vignettes which will sustain them in the darkness.
Many of us are afraid to take such moments. That if we let our guard down, the worst will come while we’re exposed. We fear if we lay down our weapons, the attack will come and we will be defenseless. If we relax our vigilance for a few seconds, it is then that our world will come to an end.
The times we feel so burdened, though, are the times during which it is most important for us to have bad tea with friends and loved ones. If we don’t stop, if we spend every waking moment hyper-vigilant, we only exhaust ourselves that much more quickly, and when the fight does come, we are running on bile and fumes.
Even in the midst of the end of their world, even when they find themselves at odds with the Empire, their allies, and one another, Chirrut and Baze find their simple, quiet moments together. No matter what else is happening, no matter what obligations are laid at their feet, they take them and those moments are enough to sustain them through the most terrible of trials.
No matter the obstacles, no matter the challenges, find yours. Hold them close.
You will be the stronger for it.