It is a sad day in the Star Trek world. An icon has passed from the living into history, leaving us a powerful legacy.
Me and Trek, we’re the same age. I grew up watching and re-watching Star Trek, learning something new each time. I still watch it now, sometimes through the eyes of my son, and I still learn from it.
The character of Spock was frequently a source of those lessons, and such an enduring character that I am having a hard time comprehending that the actor that portrayed him – created him, made him indelible – is gone.
In a lot of ways, I related to Spock more than I related to any other character. Sure, Captain Kirk was dynamic and charismatic, a visionary leader. But his vision could rarely be fully implemented without Spock.
Kirk would say “I have an idea!” and Spock would say “This is how to do it.” I love figuring out how to do things, how to make ideas work.
Spock relied on his intellect, reason, and a centered sense of self. He was loyal and honest to a fault. These are things I aspire to.
Some might argue that the character of Spock was not Mr. Nimoy’s alone, that without the genius of Gene Roddenberry imagining the character and the brilliance of the writers that gave the character his place in plot and dialog, there would be no Spock. That is certainly true.
However, you can have the most amazingly imagined characters, the most creative writing, the most impressive production values (ok, mediocre production values – but they got better!), and put it into the hands of an actor who can’t or won’t bring it to life, and all the rest is for naught.
Mr. Nimoy made Spock real, genuine, and unforgettable. Without that talent, nothing Spock did or said would have resonated or been remembered.
What I learned from Spock, the legacy that Mr. Nimoy left to me and others, are simple basic values of life:
That everything, every thing has value – infinite diversity in infinite combinations.
That bravery is using your mind and intelligence, as well as jumping in and beating up monsters.
That the unknown is not to be feared – it is an opportunity to learn and grow, and new and unusual things can be “fascinating.”
That being different can be an asset, and straying from who you really are might blow up the ship.
That compassion is logical.
That value is measured by actions and character, not where you come from or how you were born.
That even the smartest among us don’t know the answers, and sometimes make mistakes.
These are beautiful ideas, concepts I accept as axioms, philosophy that I want to pass on to my son and hope that he passes on to his children – with an admiring nod of gratitude to the man who gave voice to them, brought them to life so well, as marvelous gifts to the universe.
Thank you, Mr. Nimoy. I enjoyed your performance very, very much.
Originally published Febryary 27, 2015.
To learn about using Star Trek episodes to better understand autism, the book “To Explore Strange New Worlds: Understanding Autism Through a Star Trek Lens” is now available!
You are invited to listed to Moms Going Boldly, a podcast by two moms who are Star Trek fans, and who also write about autism, talking about the new Star Trek: Discovery television series. Making comparisons to the older series and the movies, we’ll throw in a little bit of autism when we see it. It’s not polished, it won’t come out regularly but we’re having fun! Join Vickie of “Taking it a Step at a Time” and Elizabeth of “Autism Mom” as we talk about Star Trek from our unique perspectives!
Also published on Medium.