February 27, 2015

Leonard Nimoy has left for the Undiscovered Country

Leonard Nimoy has left for the Undiscovered Country

I was five years old when my dad sat me down in front of the tiny TV set on a bookshelf of his home office, and told me that I’d probably like this show called “Star Trek.” I immediately fell in love—I fell hard, and I fell for life. My first real work of art as a six-year-old child was a construction paper, glue, and crayon diorama of the bridge of the USS Enterprise, with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock.

Leonard Nimoy gave the half-human, half-Vulcan Mr. Spock a rich inner life. He was the voice of reason, of curiosity, but also loyalty and strength. He was the perfect foil for the emotionally explosive Captain Kirk. He was the favorite character for many of us, we wanted to be as strong and smart as he was, but also identified with the internal struggle of reason vs. emotion he went through.

That inner life drew us into the world of Star Trek and science fiction, but in many of us it also drew out our own creativity and desire to tell stories. It is not hyperbole or exaggeration to say that it was the storytelling of Trek and Nimoy (who has directing, producing, and/or co-writing credit on half of the original cast films) that inspired many of us to create our own science-fiction/fantasy universes and stories.

As an artist and a human, Leonard Nimoy was also a favorite. He was always kind and articulate, a great director and photographer as well as repeat Emmy nominated actor. Michelle and I went to see a spoken word performance of his a number of years ago at California State University, Long Beach. He spoke about his life and career, his Jewishness and Americanness, he showed photographs both of his life and from his collections, he read his poetry and answered questions. He was funny and thoughtful, filled with gratitude and joy, and we all left with a piece of that reflected joy.

To science fiction and fantasy fans around the world, Nimoy was more than just a fine actor and artist who gave us wonderful stories and images. Leonard Nimoy was an honorary uncle or grandfather. As take joy in his life, as he’d want us to, the loss hits us the way a beloved friend would, even if our only interaction with him was with his art. So if you’re not a Trek or sci-fi or fantasy fan, but you know some, if they seem unusually crestfallen by the loss of a someone they didn’t know personally, this is why.

Shalom, Mr. Nimoy. And thank you.

  • My title is both a Shakespeare reference, and a reference to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the final original cast Star Trek movie, Executive Produced and co-written by Leonard Nimoy.