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Star Trek – The Next Generation (TNG) is one my favorite series. To those of you who would quickly dismiss as a ‘boyish’ fascination with sci-fi series, spaceships, lasers and exploding missiles, let me explain it to you how it is more than that. Every episode of TNG is built on a kernel of philosophy or an aphorism. It is a source of wisdom to those who learn to watch it below the superfluous action. I wanted to share some of these with you and hence I have planned a series of blogs on it.  Here is the first.

<Spoiler Alert!> 

Season 6. Episode 15 : Tapestry

At the beginning of the episode, the Captain, a wise man in his middle ages, is struck on the chest. Owing to a failure in the mechanical heart installed in his chest, he dies. He meets God (Q). We get to know the story of the mechanical heart of the Captain – the recklessness of his youth. A fight he picked up in a bar to help out his friend who had got himself into trouble. The Captain admits he regrets it, the thinking without acting. He wishes he had been more wise, more prudent. Then God decides to grant him another chance – to go back and change his actions, to avoid getting stabbed so that he wont have the mechanical heart and can live on. History would not be affected, just the Captain’s destiny. The Captain takes the chance.

The Captain is excited to be back in the past, with his friends, the night before the fight. He starts trying to talk sense into his friend not to pick up the fight. He pursues the girl he had never had the courage to. But fate continues to run the course and the moment of fight draws closer. And when it finally arrives, the captain punches his own friend instead and stops the fight from escalating, avoids getting himself stabbed. But he loses his friendship with his friend as well as the girl he pursues. God approaches him and sends him back to the present.

When he arrives in the present, the Captain is no longer the captain of the ship! Instead he is a science officer, judged to be excellent at his job but never deemed fit for leadership. The Captain is frustrated. Then God apparates in front of him once more. He explains how his life unfurled. Since he decided to be more cautious in life, he never undertook dangerous missions, never took command in demanding situations, never jumped into battle. As such he did not get the respect, attention or opportunity to prove his qualities, he never made the mistakes  from which he learnt so much. 

Realizing that he had been tricked, the Captain declared that he would rather take death than lead this new life. God smiles, gives him another chance and gives him his life back. 

This came up when one of my friends wished for an UNDO button in life! I do not believe in the need for one. Whatever we are today, whatever we have today, is the result of the choices we made. Let there be no regrets, no wish to change things. The tapestry of our life has many threads running through it, each one unique in its own way. If we try and remove any one of them, the whole pattern would come apart.

There is a time to be reckless, there is a time to be wise. But there is always the time to learn from life…

PS. Another post I liked on the metaphor “Tapestry of Life”


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