Tuesday, May 7, 2013

TNG: Tapestry

Here's a picture of my refrigerator:

A while back I made a bunch of magnets. Obviously they all had to be geek themed because that's just how I do things. There's a Firefly, a couple of Star Wars, a Princess Bride and multiple Star Treks. Here's a close up of one:

"Why, that's Picard," you say, "but he doesn't look right!" 

Picard looks weird in this picture because this screengrab comes directly from the episode "Tapestry." This is my second favorite episode of Star Trek. The lessons I learned from this story, so many years, ago have stuck with me my entire life. If you aren't familiar with this one, Picard is pretty much dies on the table in the cold open. He awakens in "the afterlife" to the open arms of Q who suggests that if Picard had had a real, human heart that he might not have died. Q offers Picard the chance to go back in time and change his past so that he never got stapped through the ticker by a Predator-esque alien pool shark. 

Fast forward in time and Picard is suddenly no longer captain of Starfleet's flag ship but a science officer (wearing a blue shirt) toiling away in astrometrics. He wants more of out of life but he's informed that, starting with his choice to back down from a fight with some surly Nausicaans, he went down a road of timidity, never taking charge or making the risky choices that would propel him into the path he feels destined to walk. 

When he demands that Q give him back his true life, Picard insists that he would rather die as the man he was than live as the version of himself he'd just seen. Q grants his request and after he is revived in sickbay he tells Riker that, "There are many parts of my youth that I'm not proud of... there were loose threads... untidy parts of me that I would like to remove. But when I pulled on one of those threads... it had unraveled the tapestry of my life." 

My husband and I have always referred to this one as, "Picard in a blue shirt." Any time we're faced with a difficult choice we weigh the options and hope we don't end up like Picard in a blue shirt. Inherently, there's not a single thing wrong with putting on a blue shirt every day. It's just not for us. We both identified so strongly with this episode that it was a frequent topic of discussion when we first started dating and when my husband said, "I think we should move to Los Angeles so I can try to be a screenwriter." 
I said, "Ok."
Likewise, when I said, "I think I want to stay home next year, watch all of Star Trek, and write about it," he said, "Go for it!" 
We have moved five times in the last eight years. We traveled to Scotland so he could perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and a few months later took a weekend off from school to drive to the ocean to get married by ourselves. We run a Shakespeare Camp in Rural Kentucky and when we aren't watching TV or talking about stories, we're writing or painting them. We still don't know what we want to be when we grow up. Living life this way is often considered bohemian, romantic, and artistic. From the inside, it feels risky, crazy, dangerous, and totally worth it. 

When we first got to Los Angeles and stood in a California-sun-drenched apartment 3,000 miles from every single person we knew, I buried my face in Scott's chest and cried. It was terrifying. Then, I unpacked our magnets, stuck them to the fridge and stared at Picard in a blue shirt. 

I realized it was going to be ok. That this was all just part of the tapestry. 

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  1. Words cannot describe how madly in love I am with this post. This was SO WONDERFUL. And I needed it. I'm quitting my job and Carter an I are moving (both jobless) because we don't want to settle for work we don't love. I'm pursuing the crazy blogging thing full time for a while and finally finishing my novel and Carter's going to look for a job in bio or medical ethics. Where we'll end up, I don't know. But I really needed this post to remind me that we're trying to live and seek happiness in that life.

    1. Oh Kate I'm so glad that this post came to you on a day that you needed it. Reaching for the life you want is scary but it's also thrilling. Our path is forever one of uncertainty but it can be so rewarding. I'm always here if you need a pep-talk (or a pick-me-up episode of Star Trek)

  2. Like Kate, I love this post. While I've never seen this episode (note to self: watch Picard in a blue shirt) I love what you draw from it. I admire the decisions you've made and the courage you display in the making of them.

    1. Thank you! Yes, go search out "Tapestry" in Season Six! It's amazing!

  3. Great episode! Equally great post!

  4. I love this episode, and I wish I could go back in time and change some things I've done. But, I go on, learning from those things and being better for them, bc like you said, it's all part of the tapestry.

    I LOVE Bohemian, romantic, artistic lifestyles!!!! I think it's the most beautiful part of this great tapestry of life.


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