Everyday Orinda – December 2020


Live Long and Prosper, People

    Capture 2020 in four words or less: Beam me up, Scotty.
    Pandemic + wildfires + power outages + riots + election cycle + chardonnay and pumpkin bread + daylight savings time + Facebook + impending holidays — we can all agree on one thing: the stress level is ridiculous. Let’s be honest here, reality has been a little “much.” Most days I’d rather escape to the bucolic, fictional settings of beloved TV shows from my childhood: Petticoat Junction, Little House on the Prairie and Star Trek.
    If the Starship Enterprise could “whoosh” me far away — cue the theme song and get me some 1960s hair — I feel like I would be full of questions for Spock. I’m fairly certain Spock’s home planet, Vulcan, also experienced a year like 2020.
    Let’s review the coincidences and see if we can learn something about 2020 from an alien race created by Gene Roddenberry. First, the planet Vulcan is smoldering hot. Named after the Roman god of fire, Vulcan sounds like “volcano,” so perhaps that’s why the art directors on the original television series chose to give it an acrid and, quite frankly, miserable type of environment.
    Vulcan’s hazy, yellowish sky and red sun reminds me too much of the tragic smoke-filled Orinda skyline of late. Was the planet Vulcan born this way? Instead, perhaps, before this highly intelligent race pulled their collective shizzle together, they burned way too much fossil fuel, ignored their carbon footprint and learned the hard way that climate change was real.
    You see where I’m going with this. Maybe, before evolving, the Vulcans trashed their planet. Their Vulcan forests and wineries burned to a crisp and everyone was coughing and irritable from the smoky air. On the flip side, they had so many hurricanes they went through the Vulcan alphabet twice in a year to name them, which is a lot of hurricanes. I know because I researched this and found a legit Vulcan alphabet with 46 letters. (Somehow, I just knew if I Googled “Vulcan alphabet” I would find one, along with Vulcan, Romulan and Klingon dictionaries. My tendency is to insert a wisecrack here, but I won’t, since my family considers my Ancestry.com obsession equally as esoteric).
    Imagine if the Vulcans eventually concluded, “That was highly illogical to ignore the science and ruin our planet. To ensure we don’t do anything like this again, let’s value logic above all else. And, while we’re at it, let’s invent space travel so we can visit some place with fresh air.”
    With Vulcan’s ecosystem in crisis mode, it would make sense if a viral pandemic followed. Exhibit A: Even your most amateurs of Trekkies have noticed how a Vulcan never shakes hands. They raise their hand in greeting, spreading their fingers to create a V shape between the ring and middle finger. Could this gesture possibly signify a great divide in their population? Like humans, they probably disagreed about how to best tackle the pandemic. “Protect our health!” vs. “Learn to live with it!” Both logical mindsets. But tension prevailed. Everyone began to dread Vulcan Patio Christmas — too much arguing. Even N95 masks couldn’t stifle the drunk Vulcan uncles. Despite the chaos, a plan was taking shape: value logic, dial back on all the emotion. And elect a female leader. T’Pau rocked.
    In addition, the proper greeting for the Vulcan salute was, “Live Long and Prosper.” Seriously. Exhibit B: This definitely resulted from a pandemic. They raise their hand in greeting, demonstrating a great divide, while wishing everyone a long life and prosperity; wishes everyone is definitely concerned about during a pandemic.
    Oh, and I also learned that the official, yet lesser known response to “Live Long and Prosper” is “Peace and Long Life.” Kind of like “Thank you” followed by “You’re Welcome.” That’s two references to long life. Plus, on a totally unrelated note, you won’t find one doorknob on a starship.
    To be clear, I don’t want to be a Vulcan. Despite the messiness of emotions, I’m grateful for the release they provide. A good time to pretend I’m a Vulcan is when I access social media. The Vulcan response to reading an outrageous post a raised eyebrow, a neutral facial expression (with just smidge of “Judging Corgi”) while uttering only one word: “fascinating.” When you remove the emotion, that irritating post becomes nothing more than a science experiment in a petri dish. I wonder if this small homage to Spock and his people could lower our worldwide blood pressure?
    And, if it makes you feel any better, I have already disregarded my own suggestion and responded (albeit, with positivity, I hope) to a relative’s recent political post. Much like my wavering resolve to stop sipping “comfort beverages” while watching the evening news, another post, another chance. Next time, I’ll pinch the tops of my ears and try harder.

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