I was little. By little I mean I was three or four when my uncle first introduced me to the original Star Trek. It's been in my life since such an early stage that it's a part of how I began to perceive the universe around me. It's practically a part of my personality's core, its DNA. Basically, I can't remember a time when I didn't know the Enterprise and her amazing crew or think about them as regularly as I thought of family members.
While I didn't grow up in the 1960s, or the 70s when the original series was in syndication, Star Trek was present at such an early period that I feel an ownership of it similar to the folks who were watching back when. Before I saw The Next Generation, which was a whole other part of my childhood, I was aware of the men I'd come to call my "Three Dads." James T. Kirk, Leonard McCoy, and Spock were the power trio of the Enterprise and each an equal part of my early concept of manhood. They taught me to think, to feel, and to face life in both good and bad times. There are days throughout my life when I know I would have faltered and possibly shattered if I didn't have their lessons ingrained in the structure of my thinking processes.
So, to simply state my point, Star Trek is such an important series to me that it defines me in a way. That being said, the news I received today that actor Leonard Nimoy passed away hit me like train. I read a text from my wife before my lunch break at work. It just read, "Leonard Nimoy is gone." Like that, gone. Even at this moment I'd rather think of it in those terms than to use the word "Dead." To say that he is gone or that he's away is accurate, and it's certainly far more comforting. Not to mention, it's appropriate for a man who seemed to be the kind of celebrity and actor who was able to transcend this existence and become a genuine living legend. He's gone. The legendary Leonard Nimoy is away.
Not only was Leonard Nimoy a great actor who defined one of the most iconic characters in Twentieth Century Popular Culture, he was also an incredible artist and from most accounts he was a kind soul. I never had the chance to meet him. I heard he retired from conventions years ago anyway, so I didn't expect to ever get the opportunity. I wish I could have, though. There are so many things I would have said. I would have thanked him for his acting, his art, and for his contributions to my personal development. I would have asked silly questions about Star Trek, and I would have thanked him for his part in The Pagemaster, an animated film which really affected me when I first saw it (I knew his was the voice of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as soon as I heard it when I first saw this movie).
One often reads or hears accounts of how Star Trek actors are confronted with the differences they made by just putting on a suit and standing on a sound stage for hours, days, months, and years. I can't imagine what it's like to be a working actor who suddenly, one day, is told that they actually saved a life by bringing their craft to some words on a page. Leonard Nimoy, I'm certain, was informed of this constantly, and I'm equally certain that almost all of those claims are true. For my part it is, at least. If it wasn't for his portrayal of Spock I'd have had no model with which to confront technical and complex forms of work or thinking strategies to sort out the chaos of life. Whenever things get rough I I think of his Spock and I get a sense of clarity. I can't explain it more than that. I just do.
I hope he's well wherever he is. He's done more in his long life than most people ever do, and that is really amazing when you think about all he accomplished. It's heartbreaking to know that he's gone, but he'll never be forgotten. I'll see him again soon, sitting there at his station on the Bridge of the Enterprise or in a documentary. I'll hear his voice when I go "In Search Of" one mystery or another through his classic series on the strange and paranormal. He's one of the amazing few who, unlike most who pass on, will always be with us. That's comforting, enough to diminish the sadness. He will still be sorely missed, though.
Thank you, Mr. Nimoy.