Today, as anyone on any form of social media has heard by now, an entertainment icon has gone away. Leonard Nimoy died. He was 83 years old.
Nimoy was very important to me because of a single role he played, the role that most people know him for, that of Mr. Spock on Star Trek. It was one of those roles that became a legend. Almost everyone knows who Mr. Spock is, even if they aren’t fans of science fiction.
In that role, he was an alien. He was an outsider on an Earth-centric ship. He had to deal with customs and practices that he didn’t understand and others had to deal with his customs and practices that they couldn’t understand. While the special effects and plots were often campy, Mr. Spock was almost Shakespearean. He gave the show a much needed gravitas that made it different from similar genre shows.
Another show that really impressed me was “Vincent“, a one man play in which Nimoy played the troubled artist Vincent van Gogh. It takes a truly skilled actor to play someone like van Gogh and someone even more skilled to do it in a one-man show. If you can ever find it, watch it.
The final show that I will mention is Fringe. While Nimoy only appeared a few times, his character influenced almost the entire series. The times he did appear, his movements and his voice, wove a spell that drew me in. And, to me, there are few, if any actors that could copy Nimoy’s voice, mannerisms, and movements as well as Anna Torv. The entire series in on Netflix and well worth a few weeks of binge watching.
Nimoy left us a final tweet.
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP
— Leonard Nimoy (@TheRealNimoy) February 23, 2015
Leonard Nimoy, much like the characters he played, was wise.
We mourn those we have lost, even if we never knew them personally. We mourn them because they influenced us. A small part of them live on in us. Our memories of them and our experiences of them change us, in small ways or large ones.
We are not sad for them being gone. We’re sad for us. We are sad because that wisdom, that intelligence, that gravitas is gone from the world. We know that no one can be them.
But there are a few out there, who aspire to be as good, as inspirational. And we turn to them for wisdom and to remember that there is a lot of good in humanity. We live on and we can share the wisdom we have learned.
For an actor, it’s easy. We can watch the shows and interviews that they made. We can share them with our children. We can show them, through Mr. Spock, that it’s OK be different.
To me, that’s the most important thing and one that I think everyone should consider carefully. What will others think of us when we’re gone. How will have made others lives better… not because they will remember us, but because that’s the right thing to do? Will people remember us as heroes or villains… or worse yet, will no one remember us at all?
Someone else died today. A blogger. Not from disease or old age, but by violent death at the hands of people who feared what he said. Not because what he wrote was threatening or violent, but because he disagreed with a group who was violent.
He too left a legacy.
I hope not to leave a legacy in that way. I am proud that what I do can help hundreds of thousands of people. I take my day job very seriously. When I die, the millions of people that I’ve helped won’t know me or remember me. But that’s OK. I have changed them, for the better I hope, in some small way. And that’s enough for me.