As a young child I was a sincere “Trekkie” before I ever heard the term. Each evening I faithfully watched the latest episode of (the original tv series) Star Trek. I just knew flying cars and spaceships would be in our future (you can imagine my profound disappointment at our current state). Spock, with his unwavering sense of calm togetherness, unquestionable logic, and nice smile was a legit role model. Capt. Kirk, on the other hand, always perturbed me a bit with his excessively emotional outbursts and womanizing behavior. Although sometimes he was right in arguments with Spock, and he could even be funny!
Only after many decades of watching William “Bill” Shatner (the original Capt Kirk) in other tv shows, movies, commercials and, most recently, his interview on the youtube radio show, “q on cbc” did I really come to respect this diverse, genuine, down-to-earth, and amazingly creative individual. He’s managed to have one of the most prolific acting, writing, directing, producing, and Star Trek convention attending careers out of all the original cast members.
In his YT interview (see link at end of blog) he was asked what it was like to act the part of an elderly man losing his memory while still having to deal with the world in his latest, dry-comedy, rom-com movie, “Senior Moment”. He replied that only a good sense of humor helps one face the fear of death, the fear of losing one’s memory, and the loneliness.
“Loneliness,” said Bill, “is endemic to being human.”
I was moved by his frank honesty, and surprised to hear that a famous, active, public figure who on the surface never seems to lack for company or projects to be involved in, felt chronically lonely.
On being asked how he felt about his upcoming 90th birthday – yes, 90!! (no waaaaay!) he replied he hated the idea, and how getting older was terrifying. Health history insight: Five years ago Bill was diagnosed with prostate cancer…. mistakenly! He was walking around in a completely depressed state, having to come to terms with the “death sentence” until he went in for another test and the diagnosis was reversed!
To resolve the shock to his system he really invested on focusing his attention to “the beauty of life”. He lives everyday to the fullest, especially now. He keeps himself very occupied mentally and physically, even during lockdown. His favorite past-times are racing cars, performing “Reining” events with his horse, playing with and training his dogs (who are also his best friends), releasing an upcoming music album titled, “Love, Death & Horses”, creating a podcast, and going on car rides with his two Dobermans – he said they travel in the car with him “everywhere!”. He loves eggs, mountains, horses, dogs, tea, the taste of orange, and the “sensory and philosophical beauty of life and its interconnectedness”.
I wanted to share his story as inspiration, and as part of an ongoing series I will blog on now and again with focus on our elders. Our culture is woefully lacking any real respect for the living history books who are our senior citizens. This fact became horrifically evident as stories surfaced from 2020 about elderly folks being literally locked away in the retirement centers, apart from their families, pets, Nature, everything that makes life worth living – all in an effort to “protect them”. The ongoing fear and isolation was a death sentence in itself for many, I’m certain.
In my line of work I’ve also heard heart-wrenching stories from nurses who tell me about prior work experiences they’ve had in retirement facilities involving a nightmare of paperwork bureaucracy, lack of staffing, and everyday witnessing the deep loneliness and isolation of elders whose families completely ignored them. It is nothing short of a crime what’s happening to our country. We must find a way to reinstate the value and respect of the generations who came before us. Listen to and share their stories. Spend time, whenever and however, with the ones who made our lives possible.
They have tales of adventure and nuggets of wisdom to share!
William Shatner featured on “Q on CBC” interview: