Sunday, October 30, 2011

Thinking of Spock, or Logic Isn't Everything

Me and my Mom watched a lot of TV when I was growing up. One of the shows we watched a lot was the original Star Trek. I don't remember all that much of the plots or whatever, but I remember the characters.

Star Trek had Spock -- the pointy-eared and kind-but-awkward Vulcan who often commented on things being either logical or illogical. I found myself thinking about Spock tonight.

I remember asking my Mom what "logical" meant, and she told me something like, "Logic is when you make decisions without letting your heart get in the way." As maybe a four-year-old, I thought this was the smartest thing I'd ever heard. What I heard was, "Logic is making intelligent decisions. Don't let your feelings cloud that." Remember, I was around four -- but to me, Spock was the template that all humans should aspire to.

The thing that nobody bothered to tell four-year-old me - is that logic isn't everything. Your life will not play out in a predisposed A-B-C-D event list with checkpoints and logical progression -- no matter how much you hope for it, fight for it, or how well you plan it to happen that way. The path to success is not a straight line. (It probably isn't even a line.) And the path to knowing one's self, and therefore making the best decisions, isn't going to come about by following a rubric, or a syllabus, or a checklist, or a five-year plan. Sometimes you have to say, "I know I shouldn't want this, but I do." Sometimes you have to say, "I know I should want this, but I don't." I could give other examples, but you get the idea. What it ultimately comes down to is a need to figure out what is right to the self, what is right to the individual.

As I grew older, I realized Spock was played as a counterpoint to show human qualities in others. But it took over 25 years for me to realize that Spock should never have been a template.

Logic has its place. People who live 100% heart and 0% logic are probably tough to deal with (and possibly homeless, though probably very nice). But the mind has to be able to figure out not only whether something is a logically good idea but whether or not something is a personally good idea. And when it comes to the personal? Well, logic's got nothing on that.

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