Star Wars Life Lessons Part 4: Sometimes You Have to Take Risks

by Mike Monroe on October 20, 2017


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This is the fourth in a series of articles in which I’m going to be discussing some of my favorite scenes from a series of films that has had a major influence on my life: The Original Star Wars Trilogy.

Star Wars Life Lessons Part 4: Sometimes You Have to Take Risks

Han Solo has always been my favorite Star Wars character. In fact he’s probably been my favorite character in anything, any movie or book, ever since I was a little kid. As far back as I can remember, I’ve loved his swagger and his nonchalant attitude. I’ve loved his courage and his character arc. He’s the ultimate redeemed antihero, at least for me. But none of those things is the thing I love most about him. He’s an improviser. He’s the metaphorical jazz musician of the Star Wars universe, and I’ve always loved jazz music. I loved listening to it when I was a kid and I love playing it now. And jazz music is all about taking risks.


Don’t get me wrong. You have to be a very skilled musician to be able to play jazz effectively. Han Solo was a crack shot and an awesome pilot. I’ll still argue with anyone that he was the best pilot in the Star Wars universe (more on that later). He was also a very good mechanic, though I think in lore Chewy had him beat, but I’m not an expert on the expanded universe or legends or whatever they’re calling it now. So since he was so good with a blaster, which took lots of years of practice I’m sure, Han Solo running into a room full of storm troopers blasting away was a little different from your average person doing it. But on top of those skills, Han had crazy courage. If anyone else walked into a room and saw Darth Vader, they’d cower in fear. Han drew his blaster without hesitation and started firing. That risk didn’t turn out so well for him, but them’s the breaks for risk takers.

han and storm troopers

As far as his piloting skills go, Han was the only person to actually get the better of Darth Vader in space combat. Sure, he snuck up on him, but wouldn’t it take an awesome pilot to be able to sneak up on the most powerful force user in the universe who was also supposedly the best pilot in the universe? Add to this the scenes of Han maneuvering the falcon through impossibly tight spaces and causing a star destroyer crash among other things and his piloting skills are on display more than any other character in the Star Wars movies (other than maybe Poe Dameron in that crazy scene where he takes out ten tie fighters and three storm troopers in sixteen seconds).

The single best example of Han’s risk taking while flying the Millennium Falcon was the scene where he flew into an asteroid field to avoid enemy tie fighters and star destroyers. This is one of my favorite scenes in any star wars movie, because it has amazing special effects and visual elements as well as strong character statements (along with John Williams’ awesome score which should get an article all to itself). It really is an iconic scene like so many others in the Empire Strikes Back. C3PO told Han that “the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to 1,” to which Han replied with his famous line “Never tell me the odds!” This single line sums up Han Solo in five words. You could go so far as to say it sums up the entire original Star Wars trilogy in five words. What is Star Wars if not the story of a group of ragtag rebels taking on an entire Galactic Empire against seemingly insurmountable odds? Now, I don’t think C3PO took Han’s mad piloting skills into account when calculating those numbers, but it still amounted to Han playing the lottery with his own life and the lives of everyone else in his ship. Huge risk there.

falcon cockpit

He felt he had to do it, though. He thought it was the only way he’d be able to escape the Empire, so the gamble was worth it. And in this case, he was successful. He beat the odds. Sure, he’d be captured later anyway, but this gamble bought him time, and it bought Luke time to train with Yoda. Han wasn’t the type of gambler who planned things out incessantly. He didn’t take every little detail into account. He jumped into a situation and then relied on his piloting skills and blaster proficiency, along with a lot of luck, to find his way out. I think we can all learn something from this. If we’ve done the work and improved our skills, then there’s a point where we just have to just jump in and let the fates decide the outcome, improvising our way through whatever crazy unexpected things life throws our way.

I know there’s something to be said for planning. There are successful planners and improvisers in this world, but I’ve always tended towards the latter. Unexpected things happen that screw up your plans in life, so it’s necessary to be able to go with the flow and think things up on the spot. If it weren’t for my risk taking and improvising, I probably never would have landed the job I have now or gotten married to the beautiful, wonderful woman I’m married to. And If I ever publish a bestselling novel, I guarantee you it will be at least partially due to a risk I take in the process. Possibly several risks. And then there’s jazz music. As well as all the other types of music I play. I play violin, so I guess in some ways, playing any type of music other than classical is at least taking a little bit of a risk. Improvising makes it fun and exciting for both me and those listening.

So I don’t know if I’ve always loved Han Solo because I’ve always been an improviser at heart, or if my love for Han Solo has helped turn me into an improviser. I was first introduced to him when I was three years old so who knows? Maybe even before that, if you count the action figures I had before I saw any of the movies. Either way, Han Solo has had a profound impact on my life, so here’s to Han and here’s to taking risks.

So to illustrate what I’ve talked about here, here’s one of my favorite scenes in the entire Star Wars saga, the single greatest example of Han Solo’s risk taking in the asteroid field sequence in Empire Strikes Back:

And here’s Charlie Parker doing what he did best, taking musical risks:

Previous articles:

Star Wars Life Lessons Part 1: Anyone Can be a Hero
Star Wars Life Lessons Part 2: Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better
Star Wars Life Lessons Part 3: All it Takes is a Little Faith

Mike Monroe

Michael Monroe was born in Baltimore, MD and has lived there most of his life. He’s a poet and fiction writer whose preferred genres are Science Fiction and Fantasy, and he’s always had a thing for Allen Ginsberg and the Beats. His poetry has been published in Gargoyle Magazine, nthposition, the Lyric, Scribble, the Loch Raven Review, Foliate Oak, Primalzine, and various other publications.

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