March 1, 2015

Live Long & Prosper, Leonard.

spock hand

Like many on this big blue planet of ours, I am saddened by the death of someone who I consider a Renaissance Man—an actor, poet, photographer, director and artist.

Leonard Nimoy was called “to boldly go,” today at the age of 83, succumbing to COPD, having been a long time smoker, even though he quit three decades ago.

Although he is best known for his portrayal of the enigmatic Mr. Spock, he also wrote two books—one called I Am Not Spock, and the other entitled I Am Spock, because so many of his fans misunderstood the purpose of the first book without having read it. He was expressing that he was far more than the beloved character he played. His presence will be missed.

I am a devoted Star Trek fan, although I have never attended a convention, never dressed in Starfleet uniform, but I do have points on both of my ears…I really do, which has me questioning if I am part Vulcan. I used to tell my parents that I was “an alien baby left on their doorstep.” Sometimes I think they believed me.

The show debuted when I was all of six-years-old, but from the first utterance of “Space. The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise,” I was hooked. I would sit in front of the black and white television, chin on my hands or sprawled out on the living room carpet and for an hour, I was transported to other galaxies. I would sometimes imagine that I was a crew member, but never one in a red uniform, because you know what their destiny was.

One of my favorite characters was the quirkiest of all of them; the Human-Vulcan hybrid First Officer Mr. Spock. What fascinated me about him, was partly the use of that word “Fascinating,” which he would say as a way of acknowledging something that had the element of surprise to it, drew his attention, but that he didn’t always “grok.” Yes, I know I am mixing my literary metaphors here, since that is my favorite word from a pivotal sci-fi read that I re-visit often, Stranger in a Strange Land.

Born of a Human mother and Vulcan father, Spock was both the heart and brains of the crew and his innate tendencies were at odds with each other. This cerebral/creative kid could relate. I was and am both a thinker and feeler. My mind was sometimes wandering off in the cosmos, while my emotions were quite present. When I was a little older, it occurred to me that the Vulcan mudra-like hand signal originated with my tribe.

The greeting “Live long and prosper” was remarkably like the Hebrew celebratory call of ‘L’chaim…to life!” Leonard, whose parents were Ukrainian Jewish immigrants, had witnessed what is known as the “priestly blessing” by a caste of Jews known as the Cohanim, while in synagogue with his father. They use this benediction:

“May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord cause His countenance to shine upon you. May the Lord lift His face unto you and bring you peace.”

When a particular Star Trek episode called Amok Time was being filmed, Leonard introduced the hand sign as a way that the Vulcans would honor each other. In short order, in current colloquial terminology, it “went viral” and is likely one of the most recognized expressions of goodwill in this sector of the galaxy.

Another aspect of Spock that resonated with me is the “Vulcan mind-meld.” I wish I could engage it with people with whom I want to connect, without needing to use words. It would come in handy in times when language isn’t sufficient, is cumbersome or confounding.

Unlike many celebrities, I have never read one negative word about the man, whose interests ranged from the musical to the imaginary. I still laugh when I listen to his tribute to “the bravest little hobbit of them all,” Bilbo Baggins and the spoof of the show called Star Trekkin’.

Leonard also felt at home behind a camera and resonated with the Divine Feminine as portrayed in his book called Shekinha and most recently The Full Body Project.

He left with a lovely legacy as his final tweet on  Feb. 22, read:

“A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP”

Indeed, Leonard. Live Long And Prosper. Offered with eyebrows raised and hands held in Hebrew-Vulcan mudra.


Author: Edie Weinstein

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Taymaz Valley/Flickr

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