I wouldn’t qualify as a Trekky, but as a kid, I watched the first half of every single Star Trek episode. It came on at dinner time. As we were not a family that watched TV during dinner, it meant I was torn away from the TV before I ever found out how the evening’s crisis resolved. I’ve never taken it up with a therapist, but I’m sure it scarred me deeply, leaving the those brave space explorers of the Enterprise at the mercy of those ugly Klingons every night—or being suffocated by tribbles.
Spock was my favorite character. He was everything I wanted to be: highly intelligent, dignified, and lacking emotion. Well, he didn’t lack emotion entirely due to his mixed breeding, but he was embarrassed and confused by his emotions, preferring to believe he had none, like his father.
Born in the late fifties, I thought suppression of emotion was what everyone was striving for. I scoffed at kids who cried at school, kids that got into fights. Couldn’t they see how stupid they looked? How weak?
Cut to my senior year in college. I’m a drama major and my professor, a brilliant man named Andy Doe, who I worshipped, has taken an interest in me. He’s working with me after class, trying to get me to own my anger. He’s coaching me to throw a chair across the acting studio, to find my rage.
It was nowhere to be found. Not that day. Not for years to come. Indeed, it took a number of dysfunctional relationships to get me screaming my head off. (Special thanks here to all my exes.) The anger came out as a messy mess all mixed up with the other emotions I’d been holding back: tears, confusion, guilt, elation, all of it came blurting out willy nilly. But it didn’t kill me. Not at all. It did just the opposite. It set me free. No longer bottled up with emotions I was afraid to express, I found myself, my voice, my passions and, most importantly, I learned how to laugh. And by that I mean deep belly laugh.
Now, as part of my work at the Fun Institute, I coach other people to feel their feelings. What a hoot this life is! And the ironic thing? Leonard Nimoy was nothing like Spock. He was a masterful actor whose emotions were fully embraced. How subtly he let us know what Spock was feeling, the raised eyebrow, the tight lips, even if the character he was playing refused to acknowledge them.
RIP Leonard Nimoy. And thank you.