Yet he occupied a very large place in my life.
As most readers of this blog know, I’m a huge fan of Star Trek. My love for the show began at preschool age, during its 1966-69 run on network television. I made it partway through one episode, “The Corbomite Maneuver,” until a creepy mannequin sent me scurrying for the safety of my grandparents’ couch. Even so, I was intrigued by the adventures of the Enterprise crew. With a few more years of maturity, I returned to Star Trek in 1970, when it went into syndication. I’ve been hooked ever since.
I confess that, in my younger Trekkie years, I liked Nimoy’s Spock but didn’t consider him my favorite character. That was reserved for the show’s hero, Captain James T. Kirk—confident, commanding, at ease with the ladies, everything I wasn’t (or, sadly, ever became).
The irony, of course, is that I’m more like Spock than Kirk—introspective, awkward at times, fascinated by new things, occasionally unbalanced between logic and emotion. As the years passed, I came to appreciate Spock much more, especially from my perspective as a communicator.
While Kirk usually spoke for his crew and the Federation, Spock was often the one who actually understood what needed to be said. And it didn’t always align with the accepted narrative of his colleagues.
Take “Errand of Mercy.” In this episode, the Federation and the Klingon Empire are girding for war. As hostilities are declared, Kirk observes, “War. We didn’t want it, but we’ve got it.” To which Spock responds, “Curious how often you humans manage to obtain that which you do not want.”
Or consider “The Devil in the Dark,” one of the truly great episodes. An unknown creature is attacking and killing miners on a distant planet, and the Enterprise is called in to help hunt it down. While everyone is eager to kill it, Spock keeps pushing to understand what’s behind the creature’s attacks—to the point that he earns a dressing down from Kirk. The creature’s surprising motivation is later revealed, and we realize Spock was right all along.
And there’s “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield,” an unsettling tale on the consequences of racism and extremist views. It’s Spock who notes—in words that could easily apply today—“To expect sense from two mentalities of such extreme viewpoints is not logical,” and later, “All that matters to them is their hate.”
Throughout his adventures on the Enterprise, Spock was the voice of reason and rightness. He pushed constantly for mutual understanding, to build connections and to bring about shared awareness, knowledge and commitment. That’s the essence of good communication.
No wonder Nimoy loved the character so much. No wonder I came to deeply appreciate Spock.
Nimoy himself was a communicator—an actor, an author, a poet, a photographer, a film director. He embraced digital tools and frequently shared musings through Twitter. He ended each tweet with “LLAP,” short for Spock’s signature line, “Live long and prosper.”
Four days before he died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Nimoy played the communicator one last time, tweeting these words to his legions of fans: “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP.”
Simply put. Thought-provoking. Completely logical.
Spock would approve.