Friday, February 27, 2015

The Death of a Role Model

When I was in first grade my father was stationed at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky and we lived in neighboring Clarksville, Tennessee.  The family all talked about a tv show they really liked but my parents thought it might be too scary for me so I wasn’t allowed to watch.  Eventually, though, they changed their minds and one Friday I was allowed to stay up and watch with the rest of the family.  I remember the excitement and anticipation. 

It was “Star Trek.”  The first episode I saw was called “The Arena” and featured a reptilian race called the Gorn.  Capt. Kirk and the Gorn captain are transported onto an uninhabited planet and told that only one can leave and the loser’s ship will be destroyed.  Capt. Kirk wins by making a primitive projectile weapon.  As he walks around the area of the fight he finds all the materials he would need.  As I watched, captivated by the plot, I was sure that my older siblings and parents would have been smart enough to do just what Kirk did, and equally convinced that I would not. Clearly, I needed to pay close attention in school and read more books.   

Even more fascinating was the tall, slender dark haired man in the blue shirt.  His name was Spock.  He quickly became my favorite character; he was surely the smartest guy on the ship.  I wanted to be that smart and that probably provided additional incentive to study.  As a teenager I had a large poster of Spock in my room.  He was a role model and inspiration, at least as much as a fictional character can be. 

As an adult I read both of Leonard Nimoy’s autobiographies to learn more about the man who fleshed out the character.  I read the autobiographies of other cast members from the original Star Trek series and one thing that stuck with me are the positive things they had to say about Nimoy.  He stood up for the supporting actors / actresses in salary and other disputes.  I have remembered that and tried to emulate it.

Leonard Nimoy died today.  Mine was one of the millions of lives he touched.  My sympathies are with his family.

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