Saturday, February 28, 2015

Thank You Leonard

It’s been a while. But then anyone who knows me, knew that I wouldn’t and couldn’t let the passing of Leonard Nimoy , the beloved Mr. Spock go without saying goodbye.

Leonard was Spock, and Spock was Leonard. If ever an actor and character were two sides of the same coin, it was this pair. Leonard did more than portray a character that became an icon. He gave that character a life of his own. To millions of people Mr. Spock is every bit as real and alive as anyone has ever been. The Vulcan legend was imbued with depth, and insight…and humanity by Leonard Nimoy.

Gene Roddenberry may have conceived Spock, but it was Leonard who birthed him. In birthing Mr. Spock, Mr. Nimoy gave us a character that said in a very clear voice “It’s ok to be different”. In a world that has always been so focused on conformity, Spock/Nimoy, with that raised eyebrow and bemused expression showed many of us that diversity was much cooler.

Spock was an inspiration to anyone (meaning all of us) that ever felt alienated, different, or alone. He was an alien in a human world who found his place by making peace with the two sides of his nature. It was not easy, and it was a journey. But at the end Spock was very much content being a creature of two worlds. He was very human that way.

As an adolescent going through those feelings of alienation, even from my own body, when everything is awkward and nothing seemed to work quite right, my Vulcan friend was an anchor for me. At that age emotions are raging all the time and never quite the same from day to day. Girls are a terrifying mystery and being part of the group seems far more important than it really is. I saw in Spock someone who used his intellect and reason to balance his own emotional war. And in as much as any 13 year old could, I tried to emulate that trait. At the time I thought it was Spock who gave me an example to follow. Later I realized it was just Leonard. Thanks Mr. Nimoy.

Leonard gave Spock that humanity. Had Spock simply been, as longtime nemesis and friend Dr. McCoy liked to point out, a computer with legs, the character would have faded from our consciousness in due course. It was the humanity that Nimoy imbued Spock with that made him whole and alive. Spock still lives. Thanks Mr. Nimoy.

When you live long enough you see that certain issues never go away entirely. They may fade for a while, but they always come back. One of those is intolerance. When Spock was born and I was just a kid, racial intolerance and the Civil Rights movement were an open national debate. There were riots and killings and lynchings all over the color of a person’s skin. Today we are a world divided over religious ideology and the idea that if you aren’t o a certain belief that it is perfectly alright to kill you.

Illogical…tragically illogical. But Nimoy/Spock had and have an answer to that ridiculous world view. It is an idea and way of looking at the world called IDIC – Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. In the world of Star trek it was a plot device to explain Spock’s more spiritual side. It became the “mission statement” of Star Trek to not only tolerate the differences between us but to embrace them. IDIC was another gift that Spock gave to me because that idea resonated with the 13 year old me and never left. It has made me, for want of a better word, “color blind”. Thanks again Leonard.

In 1985 I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to, briefly, join the world of Star Trek when I wrote “The Official Star trek Quiz Book”. Not my finest hour, but more fun than a basket full of Tribbles. My phone rang one morning and it was Leonard Nimoy. He took the time to call someone he had never met just to offer a few words of encouragement. It still amazes me thirty years later. While I never became the writer I had hoped to be, I have never forgotten that gesture. I have made it a point to encourage the people that I have known in business and in my personal life whenever I can though. Leonard showed me how valuable just a few words can be. Thanks Mr. Nimoy.

There are some lines from Julius Casear:
“The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones”
In the case of Leonard Nimoy the opposite is very much the case. The good he has done will live long and prosper. I’ll probably see Spock on the screen later today so I won’t miss him. But I’ll miss Leonard. And so will the millions of people he touched in his journey.

Thank you Leonard.