It’s been a week since Leonard Nimoy passed away, and my heart is still heavy. Although he has a body of work beyond playing Mr. Spock in Star Trek, he definitely will be most remembered from playing that iconic role. I’m certain that Mr. Nimoy was a wonderful man in his own right, but I never knew Mr. Nimoy. I knew Mr. Spock. I will let my geek-flag fly here, but Spock was an inspiration to me in so many ways throughout my youth. Indeed, I think he served as a role model, and I learned so many life lessons from Mr. Spock. Here are a few of those life lessons that come to mind:
- Keep your cool: Spock always tried to make the logical decision – not swayed by the vagaries of emotions. While part of being human (as opposed to Vulcan…or 1/2 Vulcan, in Spock’s case) is to be in touch with our emotions, it is important that we not get flooded by our emotions so much that we make poor decisions and hurt those around us.
- Be responsible: Captain Kirk and the rest of the crew could always depend on Spock. He was always on top of his duties and responsibilities.
- See life as it is: Often we can delude ourselves into believing things that aren’t true (e.g., “I failed this test, and now everyone is going to think I’m an idiot”). Spock always took a logical, dispassionate view of life. He wanted to discern the facts, because he knew that understanding the realities of situations would help him to deal more effectively with the challenges of life.
- Science is cool: This might be my geek-factor bias at play (oops, I might be violating Life Lesson #3 here), but Spock made science, logic, analysis, the empirical method, and research seem so powerful…and cool. Spock might not like me to use the word “cool” but, hey, I’m human!
- Treat people with compassion: Some might argue here that compassion is an emotion and Spock effectively suppressed these. But, thanks to Mr. Nimoy’s nuanced portrayal of Spock, we could always see that Spock worked very hard to help those in need. Maybe he didn’t exactly wear his heart on his sleeve, but Spock always had it in the right place.
- Be loyal to your friends: Spock would risk life and limb for his friends and crew. It countless episodes of the original series, Spock would put his life on the line to help his friends or save the Enterprise. Who can forget (spoiler alert!) Spock’s self-sacrifice in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan? Perhaps Spock would just say that he’s doing his duty, but we could always see that his loyalty to his friends and crew were beyond question.
- The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…or the one: I guess you could say that Spock (with a bit of Kirk) first introduced me to the concept of utilitarianism in Wrath of Khan. While I know it is difficult to live out this aspiration (and it is fraught with complications and contradictions if one really presses the idea), it still seems logical to keep this in mind when making choices in life. We are all interconnected, and the decisions we make affect others. So, I think we all should be mindful of the choices that we make to consider how our decisions impact other people and the Earth (e.g., use of greenhouse gases, recycling, food choices, buying organic products).
Mr. Nimoy will be missed by those who knew him. For the millions of people like myself, we will miss the man who brought our beloved Mr. Spock to life. It’s ironic how his character of Spock, who was defined by his logical, dispassionate approach to life, evoked such strong emotions and sentiments in so many of us. To quote Admiral Kirk’s eulogy to Spock in Wrath of Khan: “Of all the souls I’ve encountered in my travels, his was the most…human.” Although we must say a heartfelt goodbye to Mr. Nimoy, his influence will always live on in Mr. Spock.