Dude, for the past twelve weeks, my life has been defined by the STAR TREK films. They are like anchor points in my life. Some even share a theme with events in my life. Like how the 2009 STAR TREK was a reboot, and Julie, my wife, has been like a reboot to me.
Unfortunately, BEYOND is something of a metaphor for things in my life at the moment. I am not gripping or trying to make people feel sorry for me. On the contrary, I am trying to be an impartial observer in my own life. Along the way, I am trying desperately to figure myself out. I have enjoyed sharing memories. In a way, I have relived those moments, from the 80’s to today (great, now I sound like a radio station).
But the purpose of this wasn’t to just revel in STAR TREK. It was to find myself.
I turned 40 last year, when TREK turned 50. TREK might always be older, but it will definitely outlive me. I cannot say that I am going through a mid-life crisis.
Oh, no, that would be too predictable.
No, I deal with something else entirely.
I say that BEYOND is a bit of a metaphor for my life. I feel that I am beyond depressed, beyond unhappy, beyond hope.
I have severe moments of thinking the world at large, and my family specifically, would be better off without me. There are lots of ways that I think I could it. But I keep coming back to one image in my head: Driving my work truck off a cliff. Or into something solid on the side of the road. No matter the scenario, I only see myself doping such a thing in my work truck. Maybe it’s my way of blaming the company for these feelings of hopelessness I feel. Maybe I just want to take their property with me. I’m not sure what any of this means.
I did not see BEYOND in theatres last year. I was too busy working.
Back in 2015, I became an exterminator. Now I am stuck in that profession, far from passionate about what I do. I drove past the PA turnpike office on the way home from Washington. I have passed this structure hundreds of times since I joined the pest experts. I thought, This building will never age like a person. It will also outlive me, I am sure. I will continue to drive past it, over and over, and I will get older. And then, one day, I will stop driving and it will still be there.
So, in 2016 when BEYOND was getting criticized left and right, I was busting my ass trying to take care of my family. The Summer is a brutal time for pest technicians. You are busy with your regulars and all the extra services that come up. You get home just in time to go to bed. There are weeks when you work six days, instead of the regular five. You run so fast you cannot catch your breath. You do all you can to stay on schedule, even if it means feeling stomach acid threaten to overtake your throat.
So, BEYOND came and went. I had to catch it on DVD later in the year.
Even that was a feat. I started it, watched 30 minutes and had to put the kids to bed and the get ready for the next day. A few days later, fearing I didn’t remember what I had seen, I watched it over. I got an hour into it and used an hour the next day to finish it. As I write this, I am watching BEYOND for the third time.
As the movie starts, Kirk complains about days blending together. If this angle had been played up more, it might have developed into a plot about depression.
Yes, I have days where I think I want to take my company truck over a cliff. Or crash into oncoming traffic (completely unfair to the other life you selfishly impact). There are days when I don’t want to get out of bed. I think about calling in sick almost daily. I dread the ringtone of my company phone.
Now, here’s a little twist.
I honestly love the people I work with. My manager Mark is the best and ranks up there with the people I have worked well with. The company is a great place to work. But I hate the job. I have problems in other areas.
Lately, I have felt that time is getting shorter. I have been fighting some internal problems that my doctor has yet to identify. When I wake up, I am up for the day. I rarely sleep peacefully, or for the duration of the night.
Because I felt that the end of the story may be coming, I got this idea. I thought, Why not leave a record of who I was? The result: You are reading it. I figured my kids will have access to it as well, so they will always have pieces of their father to sift through.
They will know what I nerd I was. They will know what a joy they have been in my life. They might not like STAR TREK, but they will know what made their father tick.
This does not mean I am ready to die, sock it in or call it quits. Do not misunderstand. I have no courage to end my own life. God will take me when it’s my time.
Perhaps I can take another lesson from BEYOND.
This was a flick from the director of “Fast and Furious”. As soon as it went into production, the critics were all over it, canvassing it with negative reviews. It was panned in the press before Frame One was shot. Unfortunately, once the movie was done, Paramount didn’t exactly release the greatest trailers.
After the death of Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin, I wanted to see it out of respect for them. And, I’m a huge Simon Pegg fan. If he had only made “Shaun of the Dead”, I’d have been a fan forever. But add to his success “Spaced”, “Hot Fuzz” and STAR TREK, he has definitely cemented his place in my heart.
I heard all the bad press. I stayed away from the theatres. My friend Matt even texted weeks after the movie’s release to ask if I had seen it. I said I hadn’t. He said he hadn’t. I still don’t know if he saw it or not. I should text him.
So, BEYOND came and went. My life and morale felt like it was on an ever-downward spiral. Nothing worked to break me out of this funk.
And then I saw BEYOND.
No, it didn’t defeat my depression.
But I watched it and wondered, Why was this so panned?
What I learned was: Things aren’t as bad as they seem.
BEYOND is a great addition to the TREK Universe. I feel it’s a superior movie than INTO DARKNESS. It felt like a great TREK episode. Not that this movie was great. But there’s a quality about it that captures the original series. Finally, Spock and McCoy get to spar off while marooned together. Spock curses! The Kirk and Chekov plot is terrific and has those two characters together more than the Original series. The destruction of the Enterprise isn’t as tragic as in THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK.
There are moments in the movie that feel false. At least they didn’t take whole sections of THE WRATH OF KHAN, switch characters, and repeat what had come before.
Kirk’s motorcycle scene is executed well and brings new life to this genre. This isn’t just an action movie, but those moments are welcome.
I especially love the acknowledgement of Nimoy’s passing and the sentimentality of Spock Prime’s personal items. I stood up when I saw the picture of the original Enterprise crew.
This was not a perfect TREK outing, but I do have high hopes for the next one. I heard a rumor that JJ Abrams and his company signed Chris Hemsworth to reprise his role as George Kirk, Jim’s dad, killed in STAR TREK (2009). If they can develop a kick ass time travel story that’s also a father-son story, I will be delighted.
Who knows when that will be released. The production of these things seem to be erratic.
But whenever it comes out, I will be there.
For all I am going through, the one thing I try not to lose is hope.
UPDATE – I did text Matt about BEYOND.
NEXT TIME: Time to take a stand. Trekkie or Trekker?