The Death of Spock
My family know I’m a huge Star Trek fan but they have been puzzled by my deep sadness at the passing of Leonard Nimoy today. They wonder how could I care so much about a science fiction character or an actor I’ve never even met. I think the best way I can explain it is to tell a little story about a true event involving Star Trek that happened to me when I was a young boy.
In June 1982, when I was eleven years old, I went to see Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan at a local theater. I knew going in that Mr. Nimoy’s beloved character Spock was going to die in the film. We all knew because it was headline news at the time and ironically it was as big a story as Mr. Nimoy’s death is today. What we didn’t know was how Spock was going to die. As we all stood in line to get into the auditorium the doors opened and the previous audience filed out. Many of the people were blowing their noses and wiping away tears as they exited and walked by us. Those of us waiting in line thought to ourselves “oh no, this is going to be brutal”.
So I sat down and watched the movie and eventually we come to the scene of Spock’s demise at the end. I felt myself overcome with emotion and closed my eyes tight in an attempt to hold back my tears. And there in the darkness I begin to hear people around me sniffling and crying. Some children, and even some adults, were openly weeping and sobbing! It seemed at that moment as if the whole packed theater was mourning Spock’s death in some way. But we weren’t just crying because Spock had died. We were also crying because of how he died: saving the lives of his shipmates and his friends. And he did so with dignity and courage in the face of certain death while explaining the logic of his actions with the words “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…or the one”.
It was at that moment that not only did I learn how to face the “no-win scenario” but my feelings about the TV series were confirmed: Star Trek was much more than entertainment, it really did have lessons to teach and examples to live by, but not just for the fans of the franchise, but for all of humanity. Over the years I have tried to defer to Mr. Spock’s logic and ability to handle his emotions when faced with tough decisions and stressful situations, and even in the face of death. I have also tried to live by the principles and examples presented in the Star Trek universe and will continue to do so until the end of my own days.
Eventually Mr. Nimoy also embraced his fictional character and Star Trek, including the enormous fan base that loved him and what he represented. Because Leonard Nimoy was much more than just Spock, he was an actor, a singer, a photographer, a writer and a poet. I hope that in his death people will learn a little bit more about him and come to see that he certainly lived long and prospered and embraced life itself. A few days ago he posted his last message to Twitter, a very touching last little lesson to leave us all:
“A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but
not preserved, except in memory. LLAP”
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