Tuesday, March 3, 2015

'Live long and prosper': Remembering Leonard Nimoy — and what Spock taught us

"Of my friend, I can only say this: Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most ... human." — Captain James T. Kirk at Spock's funeral in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan"

"Live long and prosper."

GIF courtesy of www.HLN.com,
whose Colette Bennette wrote a wonderful tribute 
subtitled "Spock's golden life advice."
For years, ever since actor Leonard Nimoy uttered those words as Spock, that phrase has embodied everything "Star Trek." Many used the greeting/farewell to make fun of Gene Roddenberry's universe. Readers, don't tell me you didn't spread your fingers to mimic what Spock did.

"Live long and prosper" became more than a catch phrase a few days ago when Nimoy, 83, died. It became the most distinctive way to honor the actor's life and the beloved character with which he will remain associated.

It's always tough to lose an icon — and Nimoy was no doubt an icon who played on icon who was on iconic TV shows ("Star Trek," "Mission: Impossible" and "In Search Of"). I won't spend time breaking down his career. Instead, I'll reminisce about the impact of Nimoy's most memorable role, Spock.


Spock and Kirk will go down in pop-culture history
as an unforgettable Dynamic Duo.
Nimoy brought a nobility and grace to the poised, loyal and even Vulcan.

Known for embodying the logic of his race — yet being half-human, Spock is and was a great balance to William Shatner's emotional and feisty Captain James T. Kirk.

And while Trekkies and non-fans were apt to make fun of Spock's use of logic and often finding situations "fascinating," imagine how much control it took for Nimoy to restrain himself in order to play the character.

Just how restrained was Nimoy? Just how good was he as Spock? Let me answer those questions with another: Whenever any of you saw a photo of Nimoy smiling, wasn't it a shock or at least a bit of s surprise?

Spock and Kirk are the science-fiction version of the Dynamic Duo. Their ying and yang is right up there with the original Dynamic Duo, Batman and Robin, and are just as memorable as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson or C-3PO and R2-D2.

Who hasn't had a friend who is so different from you, yet brings out our best? The wild, often impulsive and fiery Kirk couldn't be any different than Spock, who brings a sense of calmness, dry wit and of course, logic, to their friendship. Shatner's Kirk depends on Spock, whether it's a personal or tactical decision.

That brings me to Spock's most memorable line of dialogue from "Star Trek II: Wrath of Kahn" — one that gets to the heart of his relationship with Kirk: "I have been — and will always be — your friend."

Befitting the grace of his character, even as he was at death's door, Spock straightens his uniform before facing and addressing his friend and captain. Thanks to Nimoy's powerful performance and the look of loss in Shatner's eyes, it's a scene that pulls at your heart strings.

Spock's sacrifice to save the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise embodies the ideal of being a hero. Kirk asks his best friend and first officer why he was willing to expose himself to deadly radiation in order to get the warp drive to work. Spock's response, while logical, reveals his understanding of the bigger picture: "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one."
Leonard Nimoy as Spock in "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered
Country" — the last classic "Trek" film featuring the Vulcan.

As we look back at Nimoy's career, let's not forget the many life lessons Spock taught us: A prosperous life is one worth living. Friendships should last. Every now and then it's liberating to unleash "a colorful metaphor" (a Spockism for cursing). Be thorough. Peace and unity are honorable pursuits. Going against the rules isn't just for rebels.

Like many Trekkies, I always will remember Leonard Nimoy as Spock. The two are inseparable for this lifelong "Star Trek" fan — just as Kirk and Spock are. All of Nimoy's roles will live on — but none are as memorable as the "green-blooded son of a bitch" he played who annoyed DeForest Kelley's Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy to no end.

The Vulcan philosophy of "live long and prosper" informs us of how best to live our lives. Don't forget the answer which many fans forget about: "Peace and long life." Each phrase is a simple yet beautiful way to say farewell to the iconic actor who embodied those philosophies. Thank you, Leonard Nimoy, for showing us how to live long and prosper.


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