Leonard Nimoy, who not only brought life to Star Trek‘s distant and logical Spock, but who was a warm and passionate artist, has died today from complications due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and the world just feels grayer without him.
Leonard Nimoy inspired generations as the logical and highly intelligent Spock, but he was also a human man who had much to teach us as well. Here are a few lessons we’ve learned from the man, the myth, the legend.
Don’t be afraid of new things
Before he went to space on the starship Enterprise, Nimoy served in the U.S. Army and taught acting classes in Hollywood. He played a handful of small acting roles, including a Martian invader in a 1952 film called Zombies of the Stratosphere. Landing the part of Spock would prove to be his defining role, but Nimoy also went on to become an accomplished photographer, author, musician and director. This is a man who emboldened us to pursue life and to try new things, and to never be afraid of who we are.
Logic doesn’t outweigh friendship
One of the undeniable draws of Nimoy’s Spock was his ability to attack a problem calmly and sans-hysteria. Spock was smart. Logical. He always knew what needed to be done. But he also felt a deep loyalty to his crew, and — as the series continued — his friends, going so far as to sacrifice himself for them in The Wrath of Khan.
In real life, Nimoy echoed Spock’s loyalty and friendship by maintaining his connection to the Star Trek family. Although he struggled at first with the largesse of Spock’s fan appeal, he was able to recognize similarities between himself and his character, and to accept responsibility for the role — allowing him to embrace the Star Trek community (and its ferocious fans) as well. This generosity of spirit shone through, revealing Nimoy’s all-too-human side, and endearing him to us for always.
Quit Smoking… Now!
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a lung disease that blocks airflow block airflow, making it difficult to breathe. Its primary cause is smoking. Nimoy himself asked his Twitter followers to quit smoking this past January, expressing regret over the tobacco habit that caused his COPD.
Don't smoke. I did. Wish I never had. LLAP
— Leonard Nimoy (@TheRealNimoy) January 11, 2015
Treat others well
In a 2006 interview with the Jewish Journal, Nimoy explained that “in Judaism, there is a philosophical understanding that the highest form of charity is that which is given anonymously.” The actor then went on to explain that he only recently began supporting projects and organizations in his name after realizing that in doing so, he would be able to encourage others to donate as well.
Over the years, Nimoy has devoted countless hours and funds to various philanthropic projects serving the arts, space exploration and cancer research. He is oft-quoted as having said, “The miracle is this: the more we share, the more we have.”
Those are excellent words to live by.
Life is change
Not only did Nimoy exhibit a flexible artistic spirit, he pursued his different fields with commitment and dedication, demonstrating an acceptance that life is fluid, things change and it’s OK to do new things with one’s life.
In a 2009 interview, Nimoy told a reporter that his adventure in directing wasn’t something he’d set out to do, but “I suddenly found myself with a directing career which I had enjoyed and I had enough of it. I directed I think five or six films — I had a good time.”
For emotional beings, we humans sometimes have a hard time remembering that change is a part of life. Saying goodbye to Leonard Nimoy is part of that change, and although we don’t have to like it, his final tweet reminds us of this truth.
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP
— Leonard Nimoy (@TheRealNimoy) February 23, 2015
RIP Leonard Simon Nimoy, March 26, 1931 – Feb. 27, 2015