To Boldly Go
The news broke earlier this week — the intergalactic news, that is. An entertainment media group reported William Shatner will soon travel to space aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket. Shatner, who portrayed Captain James T. Kirk on the original Star Trek
series, is a youthful 90 years old.
It’s hard to explain, but the news that Shatner may be on his way to space filled me with instant happiness. Perhaps it’s because I’m a diehard Trekkie, but there was more to it than that. In a world filled with the 24hour news cycle showcasing everything that’s wrong in the world, sometimes I need a bit of a silly distraction to get my mind off of all the bad stuff.
As a child of the Sixties and Seventies, I grew up with my face planted about twenty inches from the television set absorbing each minute of those early Star Trek episodes. Aside from the short, tight uniforms, Mr. Spock’s pointy ears, and Captain Kirk’s neverending romantic exploits with alien women, the show opened my mind to the infinite possibilities of space. It personified the very notion of living in a peaceful universe and how scientific research and space exploration should always trump conquering other worlds and planets. Its crew introduced me to the Prime Directive — a policy that prevented the crew from interfering with the development of civilizations that were less advanced than our own. It showed me that women were just as intelligent as men and had a place in leadership roles, as did minorities.
Before I could tie my own shoes, I could part the fingers of my right hand to form a “V,” like Mr. Spock, who was a Vulcan. “Live long and prosper,” I’d say to my sister and brother. Before I could recite the Pledge of Allegiance, I could recite the opening monologue.
“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its fiveyear mission: to explore strange new worlds. continued from page
To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before.”
Some episodes were a little cheesy, but others were deep. In “The City on the Edge of Forever,” I was introduced to the concept of time travel. Doctor Mc-Coy (aka Bones) jumps through a time portal on an abandoned planet and travels back to 1930s-era earth, where he inadvertently changes history which allows the Nazis to conquer the world (and the starship Enterprise, once orbiting the planet, ceases to exist and disappears). Captain Kirk and Spock follow Bones through the portal and eventually correct the mistake. At the end of the episode, they are forced to allow an innocent woman (played by the beautiful Joan Collins) to die to ensure that the world’s history timeline remains unaltered.
Star Trek was fresh. It was thought-provoking. It was my childhood. And handsome William Shatner was front and center of every episode.
But I realize that Star Trek isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I think it is important to note that William Shatner has also appeared in dozens of films and television shows, too. He was also the actor in one of the most famous Twilight Zone episodes from the early 1960s. He played a nervous passenger on an airline flight coming home from a stint in a mental health facility recovering from a nervous breakdown. At some point in the flight, he sees a creature wandering around the wing of the plane while it is in flight. No one believes him. He goes crazy, or was he already crazy? Was the creature really there? Or was it a figment of his imagination?
Shatner has made cameo appearances here and there and is always himself — fun, loving, and kind of a cornball. So the possibility that William Shatner may actually launch into space like a “rocket man” in his Golden years has brought me a little unexpected joy. If it’s true, it will make Shatner the oldest person to hurl through space, behind 82-year-old space pioneering superwoman Wally Funk. It will allow the actor, William Shatner, to actually do what Captain Kirk did on the show — go on the voyage of a lifetime, minus the beautiful, busty space aliens Kirk was always loving on.
And it could happen as early as October 12. He will be one of a few who will view earth from high in the heavens and see our planet as the fragile blue orb that it is.
I hope the news is more than a rumor. It will be science fiction come to life. He will have an opportunity to actually “boldly go” where few men and women have gone before. Godspeed, Will Shatner. Godspeed.