Discovering the Past to Understand the Future

Sometimes discoveries from our past can help us understand our journey to the present and the road between. No matter how we envision our future, it never turns out like we imagined.

When retrieving my daughter’s birthday presents, I discovered a long ago forgotten and deteriorating cardboard box hidden in the dark corner of my art room closet. It was filled with Badger Herald Newspapers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I had illustrated the top stories for a few issues when I was an art student. I pulled out the first three.

Badger Herald

Nostalgia washed over me with a glimpse into my college days and memories associated with some of my drawings. At that time, I imagined illustrating for an advertising agency after graduation. I hadn’t dreamed of becoming a medical illustrator. Like the golden hue of the old newsprint, I remembered popcorn for dinner, skip-and-go-nakeds (beer, vodka and lemonade), and all-nighters spent in creating art projects and cramming for blue book exams. I found them too.

I thought about how much my life has changed in those thirty-five years. I worked as a professional illustrator, married, moved to Colorado, have two amazing kids and only recently found my passion in writing. Talk about wildest dreams.

It’s funny how ironic life can be. I gasped when this flash from my past peeked out from the box. I had totally forgotten that I had drawn it. Back then The Empire Strikes Back was the newest movie in the Star Wars franchise. Finding my old illustration coincided with the new release. The two movies echoed my life with changes of their own.

The Empire Strikes Back
My name has changed from ‘Sue McCartan’ to Susie Lindau.

When attending a premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it struck me how the thirty-five years had been melted down and recast to reflect changes in our society. Instead of the typical male lead, the movie began with a badass female protagonist, Rey, who meets her black sidekick named Finn. Their romcom chemistry sizzled on the screen similar to the attraction between Han Solo and Princess Leia.

Star wars geek
That’s a pretend light saber in my hands. A real one is too dangerous.

Compared to Leia’s confining robe, Rey’s leggings and layered garb proved to be a better choice for fighting and running. She could take care of herself and didn’t need to be rescued. Another role reversal duly noted.

Instead of Yoda, we meet Maz Kanata, another female to balance out the male cast. She is the leathery, wizened counterpart without the strange manner of speaking.

When my favorite characters, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, R2D2, C3PO, and finally Luke Skywalker, appeared on screen, it was like reuniting with old friends. I slipped into the comfort of their easy banter and one-liners like my college hoody. We had all grown older, hopefully wiser and wore more smile lines than frown. I didn’t want it to end.

When the credits rolled, my shoulders slumped. This spectacular feature film ended in the ultimate cliffhanger. Another new episode won’t premier until May 26th, 2017. Just like when my college days had ended and I packed up that cardboard box, I wondered what the future would bring. This I know. It will be different than I imagine.

Are there characters from a movie you would like to see again? Did you see The Force Awakens? Are you looking forward to your next class reunion?

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45 thoughts on “Discovering the Past to Understand the Future

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  1. Love the art work Susie. I attended the earlier Star Wars films but have not been a die hard fan, thus no desire to see the most recent release.


    1. The last three before this one were terrible. The story wasn’t character driven. It But I loved the first three. You might like this one. It was clever and fast-paced.
      Thanks, Lynn! It was more than surprising to find it after all these years. I don’t think I have any of my originals. I probably had to turn them in for publication!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Not a Star Wars fan so no have not seen any movies since The Empire Strikes back but I do love nostalgia..:) Although I oved seeing people get so excited again..I love nostalgia.
    My name has changed from ‘Sue McCartan’ to Susie Lindau.

    That made me laugh… Ive had a few name changes but this is it baby..:)


    1. Ha! I thought ‘Sue’ made me sound older and then there were tons of us on campus. I should have stuck with Susie!
      I didn’t watch the last two movies since the fourth one was so bad. Jar Jar Binks sent me running away from the series. But this movie, picking up right after The Return of the Jedi, was amazing!


  3. I agree. I’m nowhere near where I’d thought I’d be at this point in my life. In some ways I was dreaming small back then, didn’t know what was out here to do. I’m contented with what has happened, but it’s not at all what I’d envisioned for myself. Of course, I was drinking HOP, Skip and Go Nakeds, a slushy combo of GIN, beer & lemonade, back then. So who knows how clearly I was thinking! 😉


    1. Ha! That’s a slightly different brew. I didn’t think about how it was probably affecting my thoughts for the future. 🙂 I wonder if anyone’s life mundanely turned out as dreamed. That would be kind of boring, right?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. In 1983, after one of the Star Wars movies came out, I was working at a state park, manning the check-in booth. When one family approached to register their camp site, the little girl saw me and gasped. She said something to her father and he explained that the girl thought I was Princess Leia. Yep, things change. I probably bear more of a resemblance to Queen Victoria now. But I’m happy with how my life has turned out, so that’s what matters most. Great post!


  5. Your art is fantastic! I can’t wait to see the new Star Wars movie. Great post. My life, too, has taken many unexpected turns. Lots of good ones!


  6. Great post, Susie! You’re so right about the future never being what we imagined it would be. Luckily, it usually turns out far better than we could’ve imagined! Your illustrations are fantastic! I will have to get in touch when I’m ready to publish the children’s books I’ve written. 🙂


    1. Thanks so much Suzanne! It’s always great to “see” you. Good for you writing children’s books! You’ve been busy.
      I like it when life turns out in a far better way. 🙂


  7. How fun to find your old works. Wonderful drawings!

    I did see the new Star Wars. I wasn’t planning too, but my son convinced me. I wasn’t a fan of the other movies in the series, but I did enjoy this one. Plus, one-on-one time with my son is always nice. 🙂


  8. I’ve never been a huge Star Wars fan. I’ve seen all of the early movies (not the ones from a few years, ago, but the originals from the ’80’s) and I have not seen the newest one. I hate to say it, but I’m afraid I won’t “get” it. My brain has trouble wrapping around science fiction and fantasy.

    However, I am a really big Harrion Ford fan. Always have been. So . . . we’ll see.

    Your drawings are really cool though.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt


    1. Thanks so much Patricia! It was a trip to find them after all these years.
      This new film picks up right where the originals left off. The next three really confused me and take place earlier. Jar Jar Binks was a big mistake!


    1. Hahaha! With close to 2000 issues, it would be a little light reading for you.
      I can’t believe I forgot about it. It makes me wonder what else I’ve forgotten about. Hmm…


  9. I missed the last 3 Star Wars movies because they were so BAAAAD, but this one’s got the mojo back. I walked past the cinema where I saw the first one, just a day or so ago. It’s been demolished but the old Spanish Mission fascia is still there. As a kid I saw a lot of movies in that cinema, including Mary Poppins (I was 5!). But for me, ever since a certain day in 1977, it’s always been the cinema I saw Star Wars in.


    1. In some ways, The Force Awakens is better than the original Star Wars. I love how they don’t CGI ANYTHING! I only went to one of the three in between. They were terrible and all action not character driven.
      Great to “see” you, Matt!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Your renditions are amazing. I remember driving home after seeing the first Star Wars movie and pretending like I was in a Jedi fighter plane. The force was definitely with me. Unfortunately it was the police force.


  11. Always so. Life happens…just not the way we imagine it will. Star Wars The Force Awakens was wonderful. Loved the new characters, but so glad to have seen all the familiar faces from the original three films. Or are they the middle three? I ignore the last three—simply awful. Class reunions don’t do much for me. Haven’t seen many of these folks in years, and a lot of my friends never seem to come. Hope your hand is feeling less painful, Susie. :O)


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