The Zen of R2-D2

Episode I: Making new friends at Star Wars Celebration

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He’s a foul-mouthed, greasy bucket of bolts, but there is no one in Star Wars that embodies the qualities of Zen like R2-D2.

I have barely finished typing these words on my laptop when a familiar golden protocol droid shuffles up to me and says in a lilting British accent, “Pardon me, sir. Are you talking to me?”

I realize I had spoken the words aloud and say, “It’s something I’m writing, C-3PO. While we wait for Star Wars Celebration to start.”


You meet all kinds in line for these Star Wars conventions. So, it’s no big deal when you find yourself sitting next to C-3PO — or a cosplayer indistinguishable from him.

This “C-3PO” flips up the front of his mask revealing the kindly face of a man in his autumn years. He extends his metal-gloved hand.

“A pleasure to meet you,” he says around a charming smile. “I am Anthony. The little fellow inside the R2-unit beside me is Kenny.”

To Anthony’s right is a perfect replica of R2-D2. The droid’s dome cracks open an inch or two, and from inside there’s a flash of bright eyes and wriggling fingers waving hello. Then the dome clicks shut, and a fusillade of beeps and boops erupt from the costumed robot as it jostles cheerfully back and forth.

“He would like to know what you’re writing. He seems to think it’s about him.”

“You understand those noises?” I ask incredulously. “The beeps make no sense to me.”

Anthony pulls down his mask, and once again I’m staring into C-3PO’s illuminated eyes.

“I am fluent in over six million forms of communication,” Anthony quips in a perfect imitation of the movie character. “What is it you’re writing, sir?” He gestures to the computer in my lap and the words I had just typed.

“Oh, it’s a book about R2 and Zen.”

C-3PO/Anthony straightens up in surprise.

“The stormtrooper turned Resistance fighter?”

“Not ‘Finn,’ Zen. It’s a way of living that unlocks profound happiness and wisdom. It’s the path of insight and 3compassion that brings freedom and unsurpassed appreciation for life.”

“That is a great many things for such a small word,” the C-3PO lookalike replies. “I don’t see what R2 has to do with any of them. Are you sure you’re not thinking of Master Yoda?”

Despite what my new friend thinks, there is a lot R2 can teach us about Zen.

“Just give me some time and I’ll explain,” I say out loud.

“Oh, we have plenty of that, sir,” C-3PO/Anthony says, placing a hand on R2’s head. “Ever since BB-8 came around, there’s not a lot for R2 and I to do.”

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