Long Live Spock

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything.  But unlike most folks online, I’m not fond of sharing every last detail right down to pictures of my food.  If I’m going to blog my crap, I need a reason.

I’ve had lots of reasons of late.  But it was all grief and loss.  It got overwhelming, so I left it offline.

Now I feel compelled to post.  And it’s given me a rather striking revelation.   About love.   Love is harder to express — or even experience — when the object means so much, so many things, than a relationship on the surface is very specific.

So I couldn’t write about my father.  I tried.  For his eulogy, I spoke off the top of my head, checking my watch to keep myself from rambling.  I couldn’t write it all down.  He had done so much, been so much to me.

But I can write about Leonard Nimoy.

Now people are going to deplore, rightly so, that he was more Mister Spock.  Actor.  Writer.  Poet.  Musician.  Photographer.  Jew.  Science advocate.  Filmmaker.  Producer.  Family man.  A man with a dry, wicked sense of humor.

But that one character and Nimoy’s performance — that’s the basis of any relationship he had with the world at large.  He created the role on the original Star Trek.  Even when that was over, he was defined by it (admittedly the bane of any character actor) so much to the point that he wrote a book insisting “I Am Not Spock.”

And then many years later, as the benefits finally began to outweigh the negatives for him, he reconciled himself to the worldwide attention on this one job he had and declared “I Am Spock.”

As a kid, I marveled when I saw him on “Mission: Impossible.”  Relished his narration on “In Search Of.”  Whined, begged, and agonized when I couldn’t see his one-man show “Vincent.”  Stunned while watching him play the baddie in a Marco Polo mini-series.  Darkly amused and a little shocked when he punched the Shatner in the face during a guest stint on “TJ Hooker.”

And if there is one role where Leonard Nimoy blew me away, it was holocaust survivor Mel Mermelstein in the cable tv-movie “Never Forget.”  He delivered a subtle, warm, and conflicted performance as an ordinary man caught up in extraordinary events, tasked by history with a heartbreaking legacy, who must bear public witness to the Holocaust even in the face of skeptics and deniers.  I loved that movie.  I loved him in it.  He moved me.

But to me, he set an example as Spock.

Spock was an outsider, caught between two worlds, mocked and judged for it.  And for all the conflicting drives inside him, his intellect won out.

That spoke volumes to a kid like me — a brainy nerd, a Chicano kid who spoke and wrote American English better than some native-born Anglos.  I wasn’t Mexican.  I wasn’t white.  I wasn’t a jock.  I was into weird stuff.   Science, computers, space, the future.  I didn’t fit in anywhere, not even at home.

But Spock was cool, in every sense of the word.  Willpower.  Logic.  Knowledge.  But he wasn’t some cold scientist.  He was slick.  Dude had a Vulcan nerve pinch.  He got the ladies, just not as much as Captain Kirk.  And when push came to shove, his friends stood by him.  Even in death.

Neither “Star Trek” nor Spock taught me to think.  But they showed me that it was cool to think.  And as I was growing up, that Vulcan aplomb and insistence on logic got me through a tumultuous adolescence and my first truly dark bout of depression.

And as flawed as the Trek movies often were, by expanding the character of Spock even further, I got some much needed guidance when all that cutting off of my emotions left me feeling empty.  Logic and knowledge are not enough.  I had to reconnect with humanity.

Spock is my connection to Leonard Nimoy.  A personal connection.  It means a lot for me.

So forgive me when I remember Spock above everything else Leonard Nimoy has done.  That is the extent of my memory — because I never knew him as a person.

I knew his face.  I knew his voice.  I knew his art.  And he did a great many works.

But he touched us first as Spock.  His legacy will be that, a character of deep and private emotions in conflict with an inhospitable universe, who won over dear friends and staunch allies with integrity, wit, and courage.

May Spock live long and prosper.  And may the memory of Leonard Nimoy live eternal.

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