I never much cared for Star Wars. You see, from a very young age, it was always Star Trek re-runs for me.
And now Gene Roddenberry’s sci-fi masterpiece is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
For sixty minutes, I was allowed to escape the doldrums of a sometimes difficult childhood, and travel among the stars with Kirk, Spock, Bones, and the others as they traversed the farthest corners of the galaxy gathering adventure along the way.
The show was at its heart, a nautical theme, and as my readers already know, the sea is a place that constantly beckons me, even as I sit upon terra firma planted in front of a keyboard conversing with all of you now.
Today, all these years later, if I come across an episode of Star Trek while channel surfing, I will often stop and watch it for a bit, remembering each line, knowing exactly what will happen next, and not caring one bit – sort of like meeting an old friend, yeah?
And then there is Spock, the character I most identified with. A man in constant flux between logic and emotion, often more human than the humans he shared the five-year galactic journey with, for to conquer emotion, one must come to understand the riddle of personality.
Despite his cool, detached exterior, Spock’s feelings ran very-very deep, and though just a boy, I understood that – and recognized it in myself, for even a pot on low heat is capable of boiling over from time to time.
And later as a teenager, I can recall watching in the theater the second and possibly best of all the Star Trek films, and how I quietly cried in my seat when Spock died.
Perhaps it is a bit melodramatic, but I really did feel as if a bit of myself died right along with him. And since that time, whenever someone close to me passes on, I hear Spock’s voice as I recall these words:
“I have been, and always shall be, your friend.”
It was a show rich in diversity, fundamental humanity, that at the time of its making, likely didn’t realize the boundaries it was breaking, nor the longer-term impact it would have on society. It also had a machismo swagger, a pro-American values bent that understood America at its best was likely all of earth’s best hope, for we are, and have always been, a nation that aspires to be great, and every so often, this country has managed to do just that.
Happy 50th, Star Trek.
May we all boldly go…
D.W. Ulsterman is a bestselling author and socio-political commentator.
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