“It is easy to believe we are each waves and forget we are also the ocean.”
— Jon J. Muth
When were you? Or rather - when were you, you? When you stop being part of where you came from, and start being a distinct "you"? Are you the same person who joined TOTJO? The person who, some time earlier, learned to use a computer and come online? Are you still the toddler, taking their first unsteady steps? The same baby who left your mother's womb? The embryo which grew there for months? How far back do "you" go?
Did you start long before this life, a spark of the Big Bang, a ripple in the current of history which just happens to be Jedi-shaped this time out?
We tend to think of identity in terms of memory. If we can remember something, we have a sense of continuity with it. We know we were that person, because, well, we can remember being them.
Before a certain age, say two years or so, this is a little less clear cut - however we can be reminded of these early years by our parents, or people who were around them. "Your first word was 'Cat'" they tell us. They show us photos of a vaguely familiar face, small, round and discernibly "us".
But that's not the start. The moment of birth is not the beginning of us, of what we remain today. Before that we were inside our mother for nine months or so, and before that, we were a few cells in our mother, a few cells in our father. And the same is true for them, back and back and back through generations. Through species, even, through the human evolutionary path and the many mutations which make you, you.
Before earth. Before the birth of our sun. Right back to the dawn of our universe.
Today is Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, Veterans Day. A day of reflection on those who gave their lives in war. A day for memory.
Sometimes, days like Armistice day can seem a little distant to us. If we or those close to us are of a military background this is less of an issue, but for bona-fide civvies like myself I have previously found the passing of the eleventh of the eleventh to be something which didn't have much personal impact on me. Some people died, some survived, the world went on.
But what of their memory, their identity, their legacy? These are my ancestors, or if not my ancestors the ancestors of those around me, of my country, of my identity as a human being. The repercussions of those great wars, of every war, and every death, echo through the eternal Force.
So today we remember not just the fallen, but those for whom they fell.
Are we the same people we were as babies? Here's an even deeper question: are we the same people we were when we burned to death in Da Nang, were blown to pieces in Normandy, or drowned in mud on the Somme?
Jedi remember. We recognise that our past, our memory, is joined, one. That as expressions of the living Force, we are like leaves on a single tree. We are not alone, not ever. We are not just isolated human beings, but part of the wider system of the Force. We exist only because of that which came before us.
Remember, and give thanks. But know that this memory, identity, legacy need not inspire sombre commemoration. Instead, we can choose to embrace the last line of our Code: "Death, yet the Force". We can honour those who came before as part of our own living selves. Our own identity. We and those who fell are one and the same in the all-encompassing Force, and the impact of their lives (and deaths) are felt in our own lives. In the grand identity of the universe, in the vast memory of all that is, we are ripples in the same pond.
Remember, and give thanks. But more importantly, live. Let the sacrifice of the fallen inspire you to greatness, and to fraternity with all mankind. Be humble, compassionate, sincere. Laugh! Take the misery of loss and transform it into fond reminiscence. Look back at the thousands of generations before you, and reflect on the permanence of the Force. Reflect on the billions of years which made you, you.
Remember, and give thanks. You are of the Force: it is not only with you, it is you, as you are everything. The fallen. The survivors. The past, the present, and the future.