Our self-made purgatories

By now I’m sure most people are aware of yesterday’s passing of actor Leonard Nimoy. His role of Spock in Star Trek leaves an everlasting legacy. While I certainly can identify with many of the character’s traits, a part of the New York Times obituary really struck out at me.

In Episode 24 [“This Side of Paradise”], which was first shown on March 2, 1967, Mr. Spock is indeed transformed. Under the influence of aphrodisiacal spores he discovers on the planet Omicron Ceti III, he lets free his human side and announces his love for Leila Kalomi (Jill Ireland), a woman he had once known on Earth. In this episode, Mr. Nimoy brought to Spock’s metamorphosis not only warmth, compassion and playfulness, but also a rarefied concept of alienation.

“I am what I am, Leila,” Mr. Spock declares after the spores’ effect has worn off and his emotions are again in check. “And if there are self-made purgatories, then we all have to live in them. Mine can be no worse than someone else’s.”

In one quotation, Spock expresses the despair and hope of human emotion. It rings true with me. While I have a lot of anxiety about how I carry myself, I can take solace in the fact that everyone else does as well. The details of our self-made purgatories will certainly vary, but as Spock says, none is worse than any other.


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