RIP Leonard Nimoy, a cultural icon who taught us all about friendship

Leonard Nimoy — husband, father, photographer, poet, director, musician, and, of course, abundantly talented actor best known as the original Mr. Spock — died this morning at his home in Bel Air from end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 83.

Mr. Nimoy was a brilliant and versatile performer, but for many, it was his role as Spock in the original Star Trek series of the late ’60s that both touched and inspired. Spock was an iconic, complex figure whose friendship with Captain Kirk was imprinted in pop culture history. He also served as a spiritual friend to real life fans, always reminding those who felt like outsiders about the true value of being yourself.

This was first evident way back in the ’60s, when Nimoy offered advice in a teen magazine to a young mixed-race girl struggling to fit in and find acceptance in a bigoted world. Mr. Nimoy used his Spock persona to provide a long, heartfelt response — and as a fellow mixed-race lady, I’m definitely feeling some feels about what he had to say. Here’s an excerpt.

“Spock learned he could save himself from letting prejudice get him down. He could do this by really understanding himself and knowing his own value as a person,” he wrote. “He found he was equal to anyone who might try to put him down — equal in his own way.”

“When you think of people who are truly great and who have improved the world, you can see that they are people who have realized they didn’t need popularity because they knew they had something special to offer the world, no matter how small that offering seemed,” he continued. “And they offered it and it was accepted with peace and love.” (You can read the original article in it’s entirety here, and you should because it’s filled with wisdom.)

Not only did Nimoy portray a legendary friend on screen, he lived his life with just as much compassion for others.

After Star Trek, he continued to pursue his creative passions and inspire others—through directing (Three Men and a Baby!), photography, poetry, and two autobiographies that explored his relationship with Spock. Of his fictional alter-ego he once said, “Spock is definitely one of my best friends. When I put on those ears, it’s not like just another day. When I become Spock, that day becomes something special.”

In his works of poetry, he further echoed his sense of appreciation for his own life and for the lives of those around him.

“The miracle is this: the more we share, the more we have,” he wrote in the poem, You and I have Learned.

In another, titled A Silence with You, he wrote, “A silence with you is not a silence but a moment rich with peace.”

But, perhaps, it’s this line from one of his many poems that so perfectly sums up Nimoy’s humility and compassion as a public figure and friend to so many.

“Whatever I have given, I have gained.”

Thank you, Mr. Nimoy, for giving us so much.

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