We lost an icon on Friday with the passing of Leonard Nimoy. It's strange--for someone who writes about sci-fi culture all the time, I've never been particularly attached to Star Trek. I know the lore, I know the characters, and I am very aware of Star Trek's cultural impact, but I've always been more of a Corellian stock freighter type of guy.
Nevertheless, I found Nimoy's passing unexpectedly moving. In part it's because I have an affection for his work, both with Star Trek and without. My first real job was working at the Boston Science Museum, often in its Omni Theater, where Mr. Nimoy so wonderfully voiced the introductory segment shown before films for decades. Many of the friends I worked with back then turned to reminiscing about this intro today. Nimoy was a Boston boy, born in the West End, he brought such incredible grace and dignity to a wonderfully silly short film seen by so many people who grew up here.
(For fun, I've posted a video of that introduction at the bottom of this post.)
It has been a trying week for me, personally--we lost two family members this week, one to a long-term illness, one in a blink of an eye to the things that afflict us all as we grow older, and it has been a long few days of whispered conversations, worried phone calls, frantic texts. I come from the sort of tight-knit Boston clan where cousins are as close as siblings, and for us to lose someone is a crushing blow. But until today I had been in business mode--how can I help, what needs to be done, when is it better to stay out of the way.
In short, I never had a moment to mourn.
And then I found Mr. Nimoy's final Tweet.
He was a fascinating man, who struggled with the inescapability associated with creating a culturally iconic character and who later not only made peace with that, but embraced it. And, as any great icon of the sci-fi community can, he embraced technology, interacting with the world at large through Twitter in a way that made him feel familiar and warm and real.
His final Tweet read: "A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP."
As part of embracing the power of Spock's influence on the world, Nimoy often signed off with LLAP--Live Long and Prosper. His final message seemed to be incredibly aware that his time was drawing to a close, and rather than go silently into the night, he, in his on inimitable way, crystalized so very much what it means to be alive.
For this, I want to say thank you to Leonard Nimoy. In part, yes, for his wonderful performances, for his willingness to share so much of himself with us, for being a part of my youth. But more than anything, I want to say thank you for so simply expressing what needed to be said--what I, personally, needed to hear right at this very moment--and for saying it so eloquently, even as his own light was fading.
Boldly go, Mr. Nimoy. Boldly go.
Matthew Phillion is the writer of "The Indestructibles," part-time actor, occasional filmmaker. Currently on the lam in Salem with his trusty dog, Watson.