I’ve been trying to process the news since I first heard that Leonard Nimoy died. To say that Star Trek was a large part of my childhood doesn’t really cover how big an influence it was on me. My hopes, beliefs and overall views on life are largely grown from seeds sown by the show. My Dad’s parental philosophy was based in large part, on two things, Free to Be You and Me, which taught that I could grow up to be whatever I wanted to be and Star Trek, which represented the future he wanted me to live in. A world where we settled our differences, got over seeing each other as different and instead looked for similarities. Where we didn’t conquer space but explored it and carefully cultivated friendships with other species. As a friend put it on Facebook today,
“Out of all the worlds I’ve read about through 45 years of Sci Fi and Fantasy, it was the world of Star Trek that I most wanted to be real.”
My Dad and I did too.
Spock was the epitome of that world. A mixed race alien who was just another part of the crew and as time went on a part of the family. He represented the outcasts and the geeks before we were cool. Anyone who stood apart appreciated him. The idea that life could have a logical order if only we worked hard enough at it was also appealing, but we loved Spock best when the discipline slipped and we saw the raging oceans of emotion beneath the surface. This was the where Nimoy’s acting talent truly shined. Not going too far, but just the occasional crack in the surface. Over the years in the films allowing Spock to accept the emotional side of himself more than a typical Vulcan and in so doing allowing the character to show us all our humanity. Hell it was Spock who had to appear to pass the baton when the Star Trek movie reboot happened. It made it legitimate.
There was more to my love of Leonard Nimoy than just Spock. In the early 70s he generated a backlash for entitling his autobiography, “I am Not Spock”. The contents were nowhere near as negative as the title suggested. It was more about coming to grips with how much the character was a part of him. As time went on he led the way, along with Nichelle Nichols and George Takei, in utilizing his Star Trek fame to expand his endeavors artistically and for things with far greater meaning. In writing, poetry and photography. He even did a series of photographs of obese women to start a conversation about body image long before it was in the public consciousness. He continued to do genre work like Fringe, never turning his back on the geek fandom that adored him. All us Rat Queens here at What’cha Reading (Rosemary, Julie, Francesca and myself) recognize him as our Grandfather because of the gifts he gave us through Spock and expanding our worldview with “In Search Of” and just spending time with us on Twitter and sharing his thoughts. In fact I found it fascinating that so many of us equate our time spent watching Star Trek with some of our favorite father/daughter memories.
For me, as a Daddy’s girl, this loss hurts even more because he reminded me so much of my Dad. They were of the same generation and Spock was always his favorite character. This feels like I’m losing a piece of him all over again, but loss shouldn’t be the focus after such a long and prosperous life. We should focus on all he gave us. The lessons we learned with him and because of him. NASA itself tweeted their appreciation because so many of the people who work there do so because they were inspired by Star Trek.
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— NASA (@NASA) February 27, 2015
Leonard Nimoy did his best to embody all the wonderful things about life in the world of the Federation. We all need to keep that inspiration alive in his memory and try to create that future, so Star Trek isn’t just some geek show but a blueprint of how we want the world to be.
Live long and prosper…