February 27, 2015

for Leonard, or The Most Human

It's my brother's fault.

Since he's a baby boomer, his formative years were in the wake of Kennedy's New Frontier, when being an astronaut was considered the pinnacle of individual human achievement.  So, within that context, a television show about The Final Frontier couldn't help but be his favorite.

Needless to say, since I didn't come around until 4 years after the original "Star Trek" had been cancelled, we pretty much watched whatever my brother wanted to watch.

Which, frankly, was fine, because that show is still, probably, my favorite of all time.  I'm sure can practically recite entire episodes by heart.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that, when I was 9 years old, the whole family, cousins and all, went to the theater to see "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan".

As I've said before on this blog, I cried my eyes out at the end of that movie, when Spock died.

 I mean, we went home, and had dinner, and I was still crying, to the point where my father had to take me from the table, sit my down on the living room couch, put an arm around me, and say "I'm sure Mr. Spock is going to be alright."

Which, was, of course, true, all the way up until today.

Now, as I mention in my book, The Savior Inside You , I absolutely wanted to be Captain Kirk.  I mean, who wouldn't, right?  He was the hero.  He was in charge.  Everybody looked up to him.  He was smart and cool and brave.  He got all the girls.

But everybody knows that Captain Kirk needs his best buddies, Dr. McCoy and Mr. Spock.  Now, most people have someone in their lives who can provide the folksy, down-home, irascible wisdom that DeForest Kelly spun each week as the ship's chief surgeon.  But no one had ever met anyone quite like Mr. Spock.

 Mr. Spock was the true soul of "Star Trek".  If the mantra of the show was to seek out new life and new civilizations, we, as the viewers, could literally do that every week just by tuning in and spending time with Spock.

The weird thing about TV characters is that, you see them week after week, you inhabit their fictional lives, you are compelled to care about them, to the point that some of us lose the ability to distinguish between the character and the actors that portray them.

So, beyond "Star Trek" reruns, I also spent a good chunk of my early 70's TV watching with Leonard Nimoy being my guide to the mysteries of the world through the old TV series "In Search Of."
In short, Leonard Nimoy, a man I'd never met, came to feel like a true family friend.

That is the beautifully weird alchemy that happens when you mix writing with performance to create a character that moves you like the living, breathing people in your life.

Oddly enough, on this day, when the world mourns Leonard Nimoy's passing, I find myself  filled with more wistful gratitude than sadness.   I am so very grateful how Mr. Nimoy's skill as an actor helped open my mind and heart to so much over the years.  In a very weird way, I'm grateful for his virtual companionship, as I suspect are so many others.

Thank you, Leonard.