Jumping off Cliffs….

Let me get a bit personal. I don’t do it for your sympathy or compassion. Just something that I’ve thought a lot about the last few years — maybe a decade.

There was an old episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation that always perplexed me. The episode I’m referring to is: Homeward. It’s a season seven episode where Worf and his adopted brother lead a band of people from a primitive civilization on a simulated journey in the holodeck so they can transplant them on a new planet without them knowing. Yeah, has violation of the Prime Directive all over it. Yet, it’s a very interesting episode for several reasons.

One, it intrigues me how a story universe can introduce a brother to a character after nearly 7 years. And it techncially doesn’t hurt the cannon simple because the excuse could be, “well, no one ever asked if I had a brother.” Or something like that. Yet, in this situation we accept it. And on top of it, Worf and his brother, Nikolai, did not have a good relationship. Possibly why Worf never mentioned him before (except for one line of dialog in season one to another Klingon). The crew of the Enterprise seemed to be surprised by the revolution of Worf’s step-brother. But I digress.

Second, the story proposes a theme of societal change. The culture that Worf and his brother are trying to save have had a very ritual way of life for many many generations. Now they must learn to adapt and go to a new place, find new food, find new shelter and adapt as a civilization. We experience this yet in micro-changes. This alien race is facing it as a macro-change. This is even more evident when one of the members of the primiatve culture sees and discovers the world around him isn’t what he thought it was. He accidentally escapes the Holodeck to discover he’s actually flying in a starship through the vast galaxy. He doesn’t understand how its possible. Is the crew of the Enterprise gods? Or something else? Picard and the crew explain that they just have more advanced science and technology and they are no different than him.

And lastly, because it tackles the question of how does one accept the life altering information. How do you continue living when you know something that is so different than what you were accustomed to? Can you live with that information? Or do you not do so? [spoilers] Because in the episode the character decides to commit suicide than continue living with the experience. He was the tribe’s historian, scribe and teacher. He was proud of thier laws, their morals, their culture, their way of life. Now, someone has told him there’s so much more! And perhaps what he cherished is too different than what it seems everyone now accepts or wants.

See, when I was a kid/teen watching that episode, I was like that was a stupid decision. Why would you kill yourself? Why not just adapt? Embrace the optimistic idea that in the future your culture will possibly develop starships too and fly around the galaxy. Nothing is stopping you for living and going about your life. But that’s not how he saw it. I’ve always said that dying isn’t a solution to change. No matter what, one can work through it — and adapt. Nothing could be so bad, to find yourself saying you had no way out. (Did Jack say that in Titanic?). Until, recently.

Perhaps growing older has made me cynical, sarcastic and a bore. I’ve had the realization that I now understand my parents and grandparents before me. When I was growing up, they were grouchy all the time. They disliked technology. They hated prices going up. They disliked change. And they seemed annoyed at the younger generation. As that younger generation, I criticized them for being closed minded. Moving forward was a good thing. Not a bad one. Yet, now I feel I’m the closed minded one. All the things my parents taught me — to make me a good person — seem irrelevant. Say no to drugs! (Well, society says “these” are okay now), Don’t be promiscuous! It leads to disease and misfortune. (Well, society says no go for it! use this stimulant to go longer and just use condoms) Majority rules. (Well, society says not really. We need to insure the minority is the favored one, all others can suck it!) Remember your parents saying, “if everyone was jumping off a cliff, would you do it too?! I think you see where I’m going.

So I feel out of place sometimes. A lot sometimes. I’ve become the one to fear change. I think about the past all the time. Those were better times. Yet, I do like my iPhone. I think I discovered anxiety. But I have a loving family, great friends and I can always value who I am. Society doesn’t rule me (I can resist the peer pressure!) The one thing I truly thank my parents for: teaching me tolerance….

1989.

If you had the privilege of living in 1989, then you experienced the very first massive Block Buster summer. Being a kid, it was geek overload. And it was a historic event that should be talked about more often.

First, this was the summer of sequels: Ghostbusters II, Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade, Back to the Future II, Star Trek V, Lethal Weapon II, License to Kill (Bond 16), Karate Kid III, Friday the 13th VIII, and Nightmare on Elm Street 5! That’s a lot of sequels for any year.

Not to mention, we got great movies like: Batman, Dead Poets Society, When Harry Met Sally, The Abyss, and yes, Weekend at Bernies! That’s not even the entire list. Just my favorites.

There was no internet. No social media. The only way to get a heads up on things was to read Starlog magazine or Variety. Sometimes you could watch TV and catch an episode of Entertainment Tonight. Lastly, word of mouth – maybe you had a friend that had a cousin who’s roommate was working as a grip on the film production. Sometimes, when I think back to that time, I’m surprised I found out about anything.

It was Starlog magazine and comic fanzine called Comic Scene where I first heard of the film Batman. Seeing that first image of Michael Keaton in the batsuit in front of the Batmobile, I was mesmerized. I remember just staring at it for hours (literally). I was just so happy and excited at the same time. This definitely was not the old TV series. I just wanted to talk about it so I drove to the local comic book store. (And in a small town, I don’t remember too many folks that were geeks like me).

I remember that the casting was not accepted by fans. Many really were worried that although it looked dark, it was going to be another campy version of Batman (the casting of Michael Keaton – who was considered a comedic actor). Now that I think about it. It wasn’t that much different than today. We still voiced opinions. We still griped. We still complained. Yet, the only difference was: it was you and 4 of your friends not a sea of millions of digital voices. I do recall that I was quite positive the movie was going to be everything we could want. It was going to be just as good as Superman (1978) – which was my favorite super-hero film of all time – then and now. (I understand that up till 1989, there wasn’t many of them. But still…)

That was a summer of sounds too. It felt like no matter where you went you heard the song On Our Own by Bobby Brown or Batdance by Prince. I know it sounds odd when I say, when I hear those songs even today, I’m transported back to 1989. My body is connected to that year. Even crazier, I feel like I can perceive the year, smell it, touch it. It’s hard to explain. Yet, I see specific moments – as if part of me is still there.

If the 1980s had to end on a bang, I would say it did. Technically, it was more like an explosion – a death start-like explosion!

(More 80s to come….)

That and that and that!

Going back isn’t an option. It took me years to stop worrying about what I didn’t accomplish. The worrying had turned to regret. I regretted not going down certain roads — turning right when maybe I should have turned left. I knew that I shouldn’t regret where I was. I was on this path because that is where my destiny took me. The regret may have caused anxiety of missed opportunities; the path dreamed of a better life.

Things may have not gone to plan but I’m still moving forward. I’ve learned so much. I’m stuck my foot in my mouth several times. There was a time where I would have told someone, I will always collect Star Wars toys. Well, I’ve not collected a Star Wars toy in a decade. (Golly! Has it been over ten years since the end of the Prequal Trilogy?) Then there was a time that I would have told someone, that I will forever keep my collectibles. I’ve sold most of them and I’m continuing you sell and purge the things I don’t need. (I’m really moving toward a life of simple and minimalism.)

As I child, I had a hand in so many geek things: playing D&D, collecting Star Wars and Star Trek, building plastic model kits of naval ships and World War II airplanes, and reading / hoarding comic books. Some of these hobbies have come and gone. As I head into the second half of my life, I’ve found that some of those hobbies have returned. At first, I criticized myself for not being more true to those past hobbies. Figuring that if I had been building model kits for the past 20 years, I’d be much better at it. Then, I realized that actually I have something I would have lost—the ability to enjoy the discovery. So, I’ve returned to building plastic model kits. Instead of stating, “I’ve built that and that and that. what’s left to do?” I can say, “I can’t wait to build that and that and that!”

Life takes us where we are meant to be. We don’t get a rewind button. Nor should we have one. Know that your core will always be true but the small details can and will change over time. Embrace it!