Life,  Philosophy,  Television

Star Trek Memories, The Early Years

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Picture, if you will: a small child sitting in his father’s lap. It’s the early 1970s. 1974, maybe 1973. He’s blonde and cute, and he’s waiting for a television show to start, if not quite as patiently as his father. He does not know what the show is called, only that there are spaceships and aliens and it’s cool.

The show starts. There are spaceships, there are aliens, and it’s cool. But most of that doesn’t stick into his long-term memory, not right away, not this time. What he remembers is the giant space amoeba.

The child is me and I’m remembering “The Immunity Syndrome”, sitting in my father’s lap in that old green chair. It might be my earliest concrete memory.

So yes, it is absolutely my father’s fault that I’m a Trekkie. Thanks, Dad. I owe you big time.

I don’t remember when I first started watching it regularly, knowing my father’s television habits during my childhood, he wouldn’t have scheduled his time around being available to watch a particular tv show, only catching it if he knew it was on and he was already available, and there wasn’t something else to do in the immediate future, including me if he thought it was appropriate and I’d like it.

But we must have watched it far more than just that one time, because by the time I have more than a few memories to solidify, by the time I was eight or nine years old, I’m sure I’d seen them all, repeatedly, and I knew about the animated series on Saturday mornings. But if it was closing in on 1980, those had certainly been broadcast a number of times. Star Trek itself was in heavy syndication. My friends and I would play Star Trek in the yard and the forest and the fields. Sometimes I was Kirk, sometimes I was Scotty or Chekov, though I had problems the accents, but I usually got to be Spock. Spock was cool, and awesome, he was super strong, and was going to live practically forever, but he always had the hardest time, struggling through the day, keeping his two halves intact and working together. Well not always, but he was the most challenging to wrap your mind around for a 9-year-old, and he spoke to the heart of a particular 9-year-old.

And I had the Vulcan salute and the eyebrow thing down cold.

When I reached high school, the local tv station played Star Trek five days a week, and it started about five minutes after I got home from school, rushing from the bus stop at the end of my driveway. It lasted for most of my high school years, and by the time I finished grade 12, I had plenty of Star Trek trivia locked in my head, could name the episode within the first three seconds of the teaser, could quote extensively from every single one, even the movies, though there had been only four by then with the fifth still a year away.

The Next Generation was my second Trek love, my high school Trek and spilling over into university, but more on that another time.

Star trek was a big part of my formative years. With dad in the military, and us moving every couple of years, it was one of the main constants in my life, one of my favourite things.

There was a lot of philosophy built into Star Trek. Oh, not every episode, but it was there. And just the way the episodes were cast, just the way the characters were played, so many things that I society wanted me to understand were supposed to matter, were shown to me that they didn’t or that we could grow beyond them.

I credit Star Trek for helping me to become a free thinker, learning to use my brain when so many people around me seemed to be actively trying forget they had one. For showing me that appearances are irrelevant, that it’s who you are, and how you act, and how you treat the world and the people around you that matters. For showing me to keep my eyes open and look for the wonder and newness in the universe all the time. For providing an example and hope that there will be a future that’s better than the present.

Those are hard lessons to learn at all, lessons we often have to relearn over and over. Thankfully, Star Trek has always been there to help me relearn, to help keep my eyes open.

The original copyright on the first Star Trek pilot is 1964, so it’s coming up on 56 years old now, and it’s probably 46 or 47 since I sat in my father’s lap watching the space amoeba get its single-celled butt kicked by the Enterprise and crew. Star Trek is still there, and it’s not going away.

Live long and prosper.

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