My Inner Geek


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.

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  1. Lene says:

    That’s a very interesting analysis – I never thought of it that way (but I also haven’t watched any of the reruns).

    It’s a difficult balance to achieve – to have hope for change, yet don’t stop living in the meantime. It takes work, hard work of being hopeful every day. Finding that hope works for both in different ways.

  2. Wren says:

    I believe that I really only have the here and now; that life is precious and precarious; that we get this one opportunity to revel in the miracle that is life on Earth. And so no matter how hard the present moment is, wasting it is the saddest thing we can do.

    Like you, I hope for a complete remission from RA. But also, like you, I don’t want to live my life in despair or obsession. Life can be so full, so lovely, even when we hurt physically and mentally.

    I love the Voyager analogy, RD. We really are on a journey. It’s up to us how it turns out.

  3. WarmSocks says:

    I, too, would love remission. I wouldn’t want to miss out on the friends I’ve made due to RA, though.

    It’s tough to balance making the best of a journey we never wanted to make. Thanks for sharing this analogy.

  4. Lisa H. says:

    Geeks Unite! My husband and I met while helping run the largest student run science fiction convention in the US. 🙂 I think it’s safe to say that I’m a geek, too. I never really got into Voyager when it was on either.

    I totally agree with you on this, though. Total remission would be awesome! But, while it’s okay to dream about what remission would be like, we’ve got to focus on what we’ve got in the here and now. We’ve got our online friends that let us know that it’s okay to grieve over this and that someday we’ll come to terms with this whole mess in some way. We’ve got lives full of people that love us and wish us well and keep on talking to us about things not health related. We’ve got our hobbies that keep our brains alert while our bodies misbehave. We’ve got a lot. Life is good. 🙂

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