Progress

kira-progress

I am sorry to have been absent for so long. Life on the Station has been complicated, and hard and painful just recently, and it has been a challenge to keep my head above water. I am trying to surface again now, but we’ll just see how it goes. I’m making no promises.

Summary
Kira has to go to one of Bajor’s moons to evacuate the last remaining settlers so that the moon can be used to create energy for Bajor. The settlers are stubborn and determined to stay, and although Kira begins to connect with the man, in the end she is forced to destroy his home in order to get him safely off the moon.
The sub-plot has to do with Jake and Nog who do a little bit of sneaky trading of Cardassian Yarmok sauce/ self-sealing stem bolts/ land on Bajor behind Quark’s back and find in the end that the apparently worthless piece of land is in fact a crucial piece of real estate that has marriage value to the surrounding land.

Comments
I was surprised this episode came up so early in the series. This is a difficult episode for Kira, because she empathises with the settler and feels that opposing him and forcing him out of his home is a little bit like doing the work of the Cardassians for them, but in the end she must make this painful decision in order to save his life as the energy project will start whether he stays or goes.

I never quite understood why she went about it the way she did. One minute she’s helping him build, risking her career and Sisko’s wrath by delaying, nursing the man while he’s sick when she could have taken him away then easily, the next minute she’s setting his house on fire to force him to go. It seemed harsh. I suppose it was necessary in the end, but I don’t know that I would have done it that way. Land, in the end (it seems to me) is only land. But the house and everything in it could have been saved, moved, transported. Why did it have to be destroyed? It seemed unnecessarily cruel.

In my life
I think about the house I left, and nostalgia comes over me in waves just like grief does. I was never that attached to the place as such, but that house – where my children were born, where we spent all the years watching them growing up, all those memories. My heart aches with longing for it. I know that those times are gone, and even though it is hard, we adjust to children growing up and becoming their own people with their own ideas and interests and plans.

But having the house where it all happened ripped away from me, well that hurts. Maybe Sisko thought that moving away would save my life, or my health, or my sanity. I don’t know. But I think he might have been wrong. The price was too high, and I left my heart in the old country. But I also know that, since we moved away, the house we left isn’t there any more – it was ruined beyond all recognition by the bad tenants to whom we had the misfortune of renting our home. So I have no choice but to move on. ((((But you exist there)))) Yes I do. Perhaps I just need to accept that fact, that my grief and loss is part of who I am now. There is no moving on, just accepting.

Battle Lines

battlelines2

Summary:

Sisko, Bashir, Chief O’Brien and Kira take the Kai on an outing to see the Wormhole, and when there is a distress call, she encourages them to answer it. As a result, they become stranded on a planet where there is continuous war, and the inhabitants have been treated with nanobots which ensure that when they are wounded and killed in battle, they do not die permanently, but are revived, so the cycle of war goes on and on. Kai Opaka is killed in the impact of the shuttle’s emergency landing and is revived, but then it turns out that she can then never leave the planet because the reviving nanobots only work there. And so, when they manage to fix the runabout so they can leave, Kai Opaka must stay, and Kira must say a final farewell.

“I’ve discovered we can’t afford to die here. Not even once.” – Bashir.

Noooo! Why did they do this? The answer of course is that Kai Opaka was just too nice, too perfect; there was no conflict, and that makes for a boring story. And as painful as it is, it’s a good episode full of feeling which explores all the themes of grief and loss, war and peace, love, friendship and hope.

I’ve mentioned my Dad before. I don’t think anyone else in my life has ever quite fulfilled that same role of mentor, and although I would love to find a new mentor, I don’t think it’s very likely that I would find anybody who could fully fill his boots. He was a religious man, and had a strong belief in the after-life to the extent that, when he was very ill at the end, and could have gone on living, he chose to die (by refusing to continue with dialysis) believing that he would go to his ‘eternal rest’, and that seemed more attractive to him than life.

I am a ‘believer’; I have a faith, but I don’t feel comfortable with such assurance that makes people choose death over life. It seemed an unthinkably cruel and cowardly choice, but I know that he wasn’t in his right mind when he made that decision, and for him, dialysis was his worst nightmare come true. After several months of misery, he decided to pull the plug. He was told that he would die within two weeks, but in fact he suffered 8 more months of pain and misery.

The grief that I felt when he left us was so deep, it was physical. I felt as though my chest was crushed and I really felt as though I were seriously, physically ill. Sisko, who had been through something very similar, was able to tell me that no, this was what grief is like.

Of course I like the idea that he is living somewhere, out of space and time, in a place where there is no more sorrow and no more tears and no more pain.

At the end of the episode, Kai Opaka tells Kira, “Your pagh and mine will cross again” but, apart from the odd couple of episodes where one of the Wormhole Aliens appears in the form of Kai Opaka, she does not return, and we don’t see her again as that character. The idea is that, negotiating between the two warring parties to bring them toward peace becomes Kai Opaka’s new life work.

ds9_battlelines

I was speaking to my mum the other day about the idea of heaven and my Dad – what is he doing, what is he thinking? Is he aware of everything that goes on here? Would he be crushed if she were to marry again? I told her that I didn’t think he is aware because – in my way of thinking about how the universe works at least – I think that at the moment of death, he exited time and space, so he exists now in a heaven completely separate to our realm of being. That way, for him, there will be a mere blink, a twinkling of an eye between arriving in heaven himself and the moment when we arrive there to be with him, even, if the Prophets are willing, that will be many, many years from now.

To my mind though, even if you have some great assurance of heaven, it’s never the best idea to choose heaven over life in the real world. Life is precious, and rare and wonderful, and despite all the awfulness of war and misery and disease, there is beauty and goodness and love and hope worth staying for.

Yahrzeit

nimoy

Leonard Nimoy – 1931-2015

I wanted to make mention of the fact that today (14th December) would have been my Dad’s birthday. For various reasons, I don’t have many photos of him (you might say that they mostly all perished on the USS Saratoga at Wolf 359).

If I had photos of him, I probably still wouldn’t post them, as I can’t ask his permission. (If I asked my mum or my brother’s permission, I suspect they would refuse anyway.) I know of course that people do this all the time (especially of their kids) but I don’t like it at all. I haven’t appreciated people taking photos and posting photos of me without my permission, and I would never do it of anybody else. (At least no-one who isn’t a celebrity, already in the public domain.)

But as you know, my Dad bore a passing resemblance to Leonard Nimoy – also of blessed memory – (at least enough for me to believe as a child that he starred in Star Trek The Original Series) and an interesting thing links them even further in my mind and memory: when my Dad died, my children did not cry. Perhaps they were too young, too unaccustomed with death, too numbed from months and months of hospital visits. But when Leonard Nimoy died earlier this year, it was such a shock that we all cried long and hard, many times. It was as though the floodgates of all our pent-up emotion opened and we could contain the grief no more.

Spock wasn’t my Dad’s only Trek connection. one of the last things he said before he went into his final sleep was quoting Scotty: “You cannae change the laws of physics!” I can’t recall now what prompted him to say it. But after months and months of misery, it was the first, and last, time I saw him smile. It’s quite a nice memory to keep of him.

I chose the photo above of Leonard Nimoy – to represent my Dad _ after all, this blog is all about Star Trek as a metaphor representing aspects of real life – because he is smiling so happily. I try not to think too much about the way my Dad suffered in his final months, as it does me no good to dwell on it. I try to remember the times he was most contented.

p.s. I know ‘Yahrzeit’ is supposed to be a memorial of the anniversary of a person’s death rather than their birth, but hey. Rules are meant to be broken occasionally.

Emissary part 2

Act Four

Continuing on from yesterday’s post, in Act Four we are introduced to Odo, Quark, Nog, Jadzia, Dr Julian Bashir, Miles O’Brian (who we know from TNG) and the Cardassians.

In my original blog, Dr Bashir sometimes represented my eldest son, Jadzia my daughter. I can’t remember if I had a use for the others at the time. I suppose the Cardassians could represent anybody who might be my enemy. I think that, because they’re imperfect metaphors in that they don’t perfectly match specific characters in my real life, they will not always represent the same people.

Quark rather suits my middle son as he is absolute chock-full of cheek, and is always working on some scheme or other. I’m not sure who my youngest son was represented by but right now I am thinking along the lines of Quark’s brother Rom. O’Brien represented different aspects of Sisko’s character.

In the story, the crew of DS9 (and specifically Kira and O’Brien) move the space-station to the Wormhole to stake a claim on it before the Cardassians do. In my story, it was Sisko’s idea, and the move was designed to protect us from the Cardassians and give us all a better quality of life. I think it was a good plan in theory, but the reality has been far more complicated.

“The Provisional Government and I disagree on a lot of things, that’s
probably
why they sent me to this god-forsaken place.” – Kira

We have actually had to move several times, and although we are close to the Wormhole, I am not sure we have reached our final destination.

 

Act Five

Meanwhile, Dax and Sisko are meeting with the Wormhole Aliens, the ‘Prophets’ as the Bajorans see them, and Sisko tries to explain to these aliens who live outside of time the nature of linear existence, but they show to him how – due to the intensity of his grief in losing Jennifer – the existence that he experiences in his mind isn’t linear at all, but he “exists here”.

I love this sequence, and I think it is so profound. Until Sisko faces this fact, he is unable to properly grieve and move on. There are supposed to be stages of grief (5 or 7, depending on which scale you use) which takes you through anger and denial and so on, but in reality grieving doesn’t follow a linear progression at all. You might go from stage one to stage two to stage three and then back to stage one and back again before the next stage you’re ‘supposed’ to reach, and contrary to the lists of ‘stages’, you never get to a point of ‘done’ grieving, as even years later, grief still hits you in waves and you’re right back there at the beginning of the scale again. Perhaps not as raw as it once was, but no less real.

As I have already mentioned, my Sisko isn’t like this, he doesn’t like emotion and he doesn’t (as far as I can tell anyway) experience grief in the same way that I do. But Sisko in this sequence is me. I experienced grief, first in 2010 when I had a personal loss (which I probably won’t go into here) and then again in 2011 when my Dad died, and it has changed me profoundly.

I exist there.

It has become the pivotal moment of my life, and what defines the rest of it.

“And I have never figured out a way to live without her.” – Sisko

By the way, before you object, my ‘Acts’ don’t perfectly match with the content of the divisions of the episode. I haven’t fully covered Sisko’s meeting with Kai Opaka or Sisko and Dax’ orb experiences, so I will try and do a ‘part 3’ next.

I will love and leave you with another Metallica track from the most excellent Ride the Lightning album: Fade to Black. It won’t all be Metallica in future, I promise, but this is such an appropriately sad and melancholy tune, I thought it fit nicely with the theme.

LLAP.