Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Reason to Live Another Day

If you know me at all, you know that I have a long-standing affair with suicidal ideation. Ideation is almost certainly what it is...I probably have far too many traits of my Pathologically Narcissitic Mother to actual commit to such an act. ANYway, whenever I see a film or read a book or hear a piece of music that moves my soul, I am SO glad to be alive at that moment in time.

I saw the new Star Trek film today, and unbelievably, as the summer blockbuster genre is almost utterly absent from my list of must-sees, I was delighted and moved to tears - more than once. It's a wonderful piece of work, and contains some truly delicious tid-bits of acting (Quinto's young Spock is stunningly good), backstory explanations (I've GOT to watch the old episodes again now), and at least one interesting cameo in the form of Randy Pausch (he of the inspiring Last Lecture lived his dream as one of the crew members of the Federation Starship Kelvin; he delivers the line "We have a confirmed visual" while passing through the scene).

But all that is not what moved this film to my all-time favourite list in just a single viewing. Rather it was the appearance of Leonard Nimoy as Spock, a time-weathered, life-experienced, Zen Master of a Spock. Every time he showed up on screen, I began to tear up, and by the end of the film I was weeping openly...for my lost youth, for the beauty that is the Cosmos, for the wisdom Spock and I both have gained, seemingly in parallel, over the years.

Starting Sept. 8 1966, at age 13 (I turned 14 five days later), I was glued to the television every night Star Trek was aired...all three seasons. That's right, I was a Trekkie before such a thing existed, though I was never into conventions or dressing up or role playing. Rather, I drew portraits that hung on my bedroom wall...in pencil, with pastels, crayon...but all of them were of only one character; Spock.
Spock was the first man I ever saw in a television show, or maybe even in a movie, to whom I felt a complete connection. Knowing what I do about myself and my preferences in men and women, I understand now what was so attractive about the Spock character. Yep, he was brainy and driven by logic and sublimated emotion, but with an impossibly intense vein of emotion just under the surface. Here was someone who was strong enough to wrest control of his volatile human side and its hot passions, but who could be pushed to feel and express those emotions. I suspect there is little as attractive to a thinking person than someone who is clearly controlling their intense intelligence. It moves me, that's for sure.

And today, as I watched the Tribal Elder Spock, I found myself moved every bit as when I was barely a teenager, but for very different reasons. This Spock, like me, has been through the wildfire that inevitably rages after you control your deepest feelings without expression for years, he's shed the ego that accompanies that control and embraced the light that is compassion. I wept, for the beauty of life and its ways, for the sheer beauty of an man grown old and wise, and for myself - also grown older and wiser. As beautiful and proud as the young Spock is, and as much as I would have been his partner when I was equally young and proud, given the choice between the two, I would now put my hand in the one with the thinner skin and the withered flesh and be thrilled by the connection.

Our local theater, The Rose, has a lovely tradition of a staff member coming to the front of the theater before each showing to tell a little tidbit of some kind about the background of the film. Today, the story of getting Leonard Nimoy to play the part of Mr. Spock one more time. He has rejected all offers prior to this, but the part was so integral to the story that the film makers, hats in hand, went to Mr. Nimoy and asked. Apparently he just sat there, and thought about it; silence filled the room. After awhile he looked up, and quietly nodded. "Yes," he said, "I will play Spock one last time." And, the theater host told us, his wife said he sat in that chair for hours afterward, weeping from the emotion of what he had agreed to do. Mr Nimoy, thank you for taking this role on again. I felt as though I was watching my own life, in some strange way. I was moved every single time you appeared on the screen, and as the credits rolled, I just sat there, like you, and wept for time gone by and for the enourmity of the play that has been my life.
All this probably sounds silly to most of you. So it goes. There was a time when it would've sounded silly to me, too, so maybe there's a time ahead when it will make sense to you. No matter.

Live long, and prosper.


Colleen said...

Couldn't agree more. I was madly in love with him when I was younger, and I am even more so now that I am older and have less tread on the tires. People who have been written on are so indescribably beautiful- it pierces the soul. Thanks for the post.

dhawktx said...

Even more poignant today. As George Takei said, "We return you now to the stars, Leonard.."