Okay, I’m about to reveal my true geeky nature to my blog readership… any fellow geeks out there?
Lately RA has given me (or forced on me) quite a bit of couch time, and I’ve been using some of it to catch up with reruns of Star Trek: Voyager. Although I was a faithful follower of Star Trek: TNG, I never got interested in Voyager when it was actually on. I started watching the reruns somewhere in the middle of the series, and they’ve come and gone on different TV stations over time, so there are still early episodes I’ve never seen.
For those of you not familiar with Voyager, the basic premise is this: The Federation Starship Voyager, while on a mission to track down a renegade enemy ship, is swept by a powerful alien force into a distant part of the galaxy called the Delta Quadrant. The alien responsible for this promptly dies, leaving the crew stranded. Traveling at top speed, it will take them 75 years to get back home. The enemy ship is there too, and the two crews decide to join forces and make the journey together. (There’s more to it than this, but this is the basic idea.)
Recently, I was watching one of the first-season episodes – the sixth episode, actually, which is titled “The Cloud.” At the beginning of the episode, the captain, in a log entry, says, “Our journey home is several weeks old now, and I have begun to notice in my crew, and in myself, a subtle change, as the reality of our situation settles in.” She discusses this with her first officer, and he mentions that the crew is going through a natural grieving period.
I don’t know why, but this really struck me. A grieving period. Suddenly, I realized how much Voyager is like life with RA.
In Voyager, the crew’s whole life is suddenly changed by a force outside their control. They are light-years from the lives they knew, and may never get back there. They have to learn to coexist comfortably with enemies. They have limited resources, and need to learn to use them carefully (spoons, anyone?). The future is a giant question mark. Their relationships change, too. In a later season of the show, when the crew finally finds a way to communicate with people back on Earth, they find that some people have given them up for dead and moved on with their lives, while others are still waiting faithfully. They also form new relationships with each other and with new people they meet during their travels, some of which are stronger than the ones they’ve left behind.
But what interests me most is the captain’s approach to the mission. Her primary goal is to get her crew back to the Alpha Quadrant, and she never gives up hope that this will happen. At the same time, though, she takes advantage of the opportunity to explore this new part of the galaxy, even though doing so sometimes takes them further away from their goal. She also encourages the crew to make their lives happy and enriching along the way. They don’t spend every moment focusing on the need to get back home.
Sometimes, especially in the early shows, the crew believes that they have found a way home, and are crushed when it doesn’t pan out. (This always reminds me a little of Gilligan’s Island.) As the show evolves, less time is spent on this kind of plotline, and more on the life they have built for themselves in the Delta Quadrant. And yet, this isn’t accomplished by giving up on the goal.
I’ve often wondered if this is possible with RA. It seems like the perfect way to be, really. On the one hand, I never want to give up on the goal of remission. On the other hand, I don’t want to be so obsessed with it that I miss the opportunity to make my life as rich as possible, right here, right now. If the Voyager crew had spent all seven of their years in the Delta Quadrant focusing on nothing but getting home, it would have been a boring show. It also would have been boring if they had given up hope and settled on a nice planet somewhere.
I guess I just wish I knew for sure whether or not I’m going to get “home” someday. But that’s not the way it works in real life.