Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wisdom Figure

Last fall I sat in on a six week memoir writing class. We'd be given a couple of topics during class time and just do some free writing for 15 minutes on that topic.

One of the first exercises we did involved first making a list of five wisdom figures, people who've assisted us in our quest for meaning, who've helped shape our core values. I scratched out a list with a little difficulty and picked one of them to write on. Here it is.

Okay, so he's got pointy ears. So what? Big deal. Yes, he's from another planet. Yes, he lacks emotions. Yes, he's fictional. But Spock is there, in my memory, in my views of the world, in the views of my own life. He stands there erect, hands clasped behind his back in an "at ease" position that I still mimic to this day. Every Sunday as I recite the Apostle's Creed, I'm standing straight and still like Spock. He's loyal. Rational. Yes, I have to say it, he's logical. He appreciates the scientific method. and while he maintains a cool reserve, we all know that underneath he's got a seething cauldron of raw feelings boiling away, kept under control by a single upturned eyebrow and a healthy curiosity about all things new. Puzzles are a challenge, a way to learn something new. And while he's been known to throw a punch or two in his time, he mostly handles conflict with a zen-like detachment, coolly pinching an opponent's shoulder, dropping the villain instantly into a cold, deep sleep. He's a stranger amidst a crew of irrational humans, trying to understand the foreign language of emotional responses.

For a kid who kept moving to new houses, new cities, new friends, why not rely on someone constant, someone whose judgment you could trust, who would loyally appear in your living room weekday afternoons at 4. Kirk got the girls. And that's certainly an appealing trait to emulate. But Spock truly understood -- if not himself, at least the world - the universe - around him. Maybe, one day, I'll be able to say the same. It's not logical, I know, but maybe, someday, it will be true. Could he actually be a part of me, lurking deep within, forged in childhood, shaped in high school?

Speech contest. Do a dramatic monologue. I come up with a selection from Leonard Nimoy's book, I Am Not Spock, an internal dialogue section, in which Nimoy wrestles with the Spock inside himself. Maybe, inside me, there's still a Spock, a logical creature, trying to get out.

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