Watching the new Top Gun sequel (Top Gun: Maverick) recently in the theater (which was excellent by the way) and hearing that old “Danger Zone” song thump through the theater’s sound system, I was immediately transported temporarily back in time to 1986 when the original was released.
May of 1986 to be precise, I was 13 years old and a lover of movies already in life. My parents were still alive and hadn’t fully descended into their crazy drama yet. I also hadn’t picked up any addiction yet, nor had I been molested yet either. Honestly, my only real concern back then was how alone I felt in life, as I was generally friend-less back then. That’s why I loved movies so much, as they helped me forget about that for the few hours I’d sit in those dark theaters and stare at the screen in awe.
I’m quite sure there’s a young naïve teenager somewhere in this world who also found themselves staring at the screen in awe watching the now 60-year-old Tom Cruise playing Maverick once again and aspiring to become something greater in life once the credits rolled at the end. That’s precisely how I felt back in May of 1986 when I was also a young naïve kid who simply loved to watch movies, swim in the pool, hike in nature, and hoped to become something greater in life eventually. Sadly, all the PTSD I’d endure and all the detours I’d take with one addiction after another and one unhealthy relationship after another, would derail all of it.
Having endured what I have since the original Top Gun, I often find myself asking others if they could go back in time while retaining their memories to have a chance to do it all over again, would they? Most say no, yet I consistently say yes, as I struggle with acceptance of where my life is now. I frequently think that maybe if I just had another chance, I could do things differently and achieve those dreams I once had as that naïve young kid. Unfortunately, time travel doesn’t exist nor do I have the youthful exuberance anymore. Yet what I do have is God at my helm and much wisdom gained from the many hard lessons I learned since that original Top Gun.
While I am thankful for all these hard lessons and life experiences I’ve gained, watching the Top Gun sequel really did make me miss where I was at in life in May of 1986. It made me miss the innocence I had then, the amazing health I carried then, the vitality I used to exude then, and the excitement I used to have then just to be alive. It’s precisely why I experienced both joy and sorrow while watching the Top Gun sequel. Joy for how much movies continue to be a wonderful escape where I’m able to forget about all the stressors of my life for a few hours and immerse myself in something amazing, but sorrow for remembering the three decades that came after the original Top Gun, decades that had me drifting far from God and far from being true to myself.
Whether another Top Gun sequel will ever be made again I don’t know. If one is though, I pray that the only feeling I have when watching it will be that of joy. Joy for my love of movies and joy for how far I’ve come in life by then. Rather than feeling sorrow, sorrow for all the choices I once made that led me into a life without God, a life of addictions, a life of detours, and a life of many dead-ends, things I won’t need to ever experience again, so long as I remain in recovery, trusting God to keep leading my way…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson