A while back I was listening to local talk radio. The question they were discussing was, “Is there a famous person, that you don’t know personally, that – if they died – you would cry?” I’ve had some interesting conversations with people around that question. At the time, I couldn’t think of anyone in particular.
Then Leonard Nimoy died.
While I didn’t exactly cry, I have found myself grieving over the death of Leonard Nimoy. I have been a huge Star Trek fan as long as I can remember. I was born in 1968, right at the end of Star Trek’s three-year run on TV. I watched Star Trek after school when it was in syndication. My favorite character was, of course, Spock. I had Star Trek toys. Spock action figures (that we’re really dolls). I had a Spock uniform. I’ve seen every Star Trek movie multiple times (even the first one which was long and a bit overblown). I’ve watched Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Kahn more than I can count. I’ve loved the new reboots with Zachary Q as a young Spock. Spin off series, too. When it comes to Star Trek I’m all in (although I’ve never been to a convention).
My older brother, who was a little more sports minded then me, still complains that when we were kids he could never get me to put down my Star Trek and Star Wars toys long enough to get me to come outside and play basketball.
With all of that, however, I still did not know Leonard Nimoy the man. And it’s pretty clear that someone else can play Spock, so I won’t lose on that front either. So, what am I grieving when I grieve the death of Leonard Nimoy?
My hunch is I’m grieving the loss of my own youth, my own childhood, a more simple time when I could kick my imagination into overdrive and escape to distant planets and far off places and spaces and people and aliens… It seems to me that when we are young the world is wide open and full of possibility. But choice by choice what was once wide open becomes a bit more constrained.
Seems like the art of living is learning to find joy and meaning and purpose as life becomes more constrained. Or, perhaps, cultivating spaces where we can still kick that old imagination into overdrive again.
According to the Mars One website, over 200,000 applied to join a mars colonization program. They literally applied to embark on a one-way mission to Mars for the purpose of setting up human colonies. Why? I think it’s because there are so few places for grown ups to take their imaginations out of neutral.
So perhaps, instead of grief over the death of a man I really didn’t know at all, the death of Leonard Nimoy can be an encouragement to dust off my imagination.
Something to think about (I’m sure my therapist – if I had one – would find all this fascinating)
Live long and prosper!