Today, I’m reflecting on something big that is suddenly gone.
Like so many I got into Star Trek when it went into syndication. Sometime around the summer of ’70 or ’71, one of our three TV channel pipelines to the world began running it at 6:00. I started watching it every day. I’d seen episodes of the third season when it ran on prime time but in reruns I was captured forever. From that run I watched every episode many times and many times since. I’ve viewed and enjoyed the other Trek offerings, but Trek classic, the original series, is hosted in me today. I know that of the 79 episodes only a handful are really good. But I still watch the beautifully remastered reruns on Saturday nights now. Yes, I know the episode titles, who wrote many of them and how they have been surgically damaged, editing “disposable” scenes and lines in order to cram in a few more ads for siding and car insurance.
Yesterday, Feb 27th 2015, Leonard Nimoy passed away. Mr. Nimoy was many things. He was an actor, poet, director, photographer, husband, father, but mainly to me he was Mr. Spock.
Mr. Spock. I don’t have to tell anybody who that is. That is a testament to the cultural footprint of Star Trek. The details on Mr. Spock can get foggy for some. We know the pointy ears, a smaller but still quite large contingent know he was the alien who claimed to have no emotions but in reality he managed the same ones we all have.
I so admired his mind, the cool, cerebral approach to things. I don’t know how Spock would have been developed by another actor because Mr. Nimoy was the artist granted the privilege of breathing life into the fiction. Spock has taken his place alongside all the great characters of human stories. In my eyes he changed the world with his portrayal. Well, my world.
My world. In my RIP message on Facebook I thanked Mr. Nimoy for Mr. Spock, because that is what I felt: gratitude. While the character was a gift to the world of fiction, it was also something special that he gave to me, that I could cling to growing up, trying to find my way. I loved when he would calculate quickly when presented with a need to know the percentages on some issue facing the crew of the Enterprise. I quickly learned I could not do that. When the weekly crisis presented itself he met it with a raised eyebrow and a refusal to just react without thought. He insisted on engaging his mind in stressful situations. I have managed over the years to get better at that. His relationship with Kirk was my relationship with my own emerging personality traits, my ego, my temper my emotional side, the 360 degrees of my humanity. I was very emotional growing up, crying “too much,” or raging around. I had only a few good friends in my grade school and middle school years. On some level when I was an angry or hormonal young man I used Mr. Spock as an approach to manage my emotions and reactions to the world. I used my vocabulary and brain to build a place I could survive like a primitive might use a cave. Before I found my own place in most interactions I used Mr. Spock as a way to cope with being different on a ship full of humans. Spock helped me deal with my alien side. I now know that we are all aliens in some way, that all of us feel like an outsider at times regardless of who loves us or how good a life we have.
So, thank you again Mr. Nimoy for Mr. Spock. Like so many things I did not realize how big you were until you were missing.