Wandering Off the Trail: Goodbye To An Old Friend I Never Met
The first thought, the first word that popped into my head was “No…”
When I logged into my facebook account, the first thing I saw was a photo of Leonard Nimoy, as Spock. It had been posted by the Criterion Collection facebook page, and I knew what it meant even before I read the caption. I didn’t want to believe it, however. Leonard Nimoy can’t die. Not this man who had given us one of the most noble, most human characters in television and film history. Not this man who over decades grew to be more than just Spock… more than a stage actor, writer, director, poet, photographer – all of which he was, and more – not this man who had gone on to become a beloved cultural icon. Leonard Nimoy can’t die. Not this man who had at first chaffed under the burden of type-casting, but later grew to embrace with unbridled enthusiasm the character he so memorably brought to life, along with the fans who adored him. And rest assured, it wasn’t just Spock that the fans adored, it was also Leonard Nimoy himself, for his gentleness, kindness, and good humor. No, Leonard Nimoy can’t die.
Being successful at any endeavor usually requires a certain amount of hard work, but it always requires an enormous amount of luck. I had the impression that Leonard Nimoy understood this, and was grateful for the role good fortune played in his life and success. Perhaps that’s why he was always so generous with his time and spirit for others. I never had the pleasure of meeting him, and yet today, I feel the loss as surely as if I’d lost a dear old friend. I’ve never known a world without Leonard Nimoy in it. I have very clear memories of watching Star Trek reruns with my dad, on Saturday afternoons. Star Trek was one of the few things about which my dad and I agreed. It didn’t take long, even as a child, for me to understand that Spock, this supposedly unemotional alien, was the heart and soul… the conscience, of Star Trek. And it didn’t take long for Spock to become my favorite character. Someone once said that Spock was the first character who made it cool to be weird. I suppose that’s one of the reasons I was drawn to him, being something of an unusual child myself. Yet the main draw for me, as I’m sure it was for others, was the wisdom, the dignity, and yes, even the warmth that Leonard Nimoy brought to the character. Those things can’t be faked, not even by the greatest of actors – we loved Spock because ultimately, we loved Leonard Nimoy. We learned over the years that though one was alien, and the other human, there was very little distance between the two. That warmth, that wisdom, that dignity that we so loved and admired didn’t come from a script page. It came from within Leonard Nimoy.
The older I get, the harder these types of losses become. The artists who’ve done so much to shape who I am, the ones who I’ve looked to for inspiration and comfort, when I couldn’t find it in the “real” world… it’s as if they’re being taken from me… from us… bit by bit, piece by piece. Thankfully, the lessons Leonard Nimoy, and those like him taught us still remain with us. What matters is not so much what you achieve, as it is what you leave behind. As I, and so many others come to grips with yet another difficult loss, I say thank you old friend, for sharing not just your talent, but yourself… thank you for the legacy of wisdom, good humor and kindness that you leave behind. Safe journey.