The philosophy of Star Trek can be far reaching and profound. In many ways, through the inspiration of a story we can often learn more about ourselves and the world around us. Oddly enough, it can also introduce us to concepts that help us battle our own codependency.
“Perhaps the key to understanding your experience is to stop looking into other sources for a meaning. When we look at Michaelangelo’s David or Symnay’s Tomb and we don’t ask what does this mean to other people. The real question is, what does it mean to us? Explore this image, Data. Let it excite your imagination. Focus on it. See where it leads you. Let it inspire you.” – Birthright, Part I, Star Trek: TNG
One of the most critical pieces of personal growth involves introspection. Looking inside of yourself, to examine all the parts that you like and dislike, is necessary in moving beyond yourself. Beyond who you are, to who you would like to become.
The problem is that we tend to limit ourselves in what we’re comfortable looking at. We fear knowing ourselves too closely. We dislike, or even hate, certain parts of who we are. Doing deep reflective thinking treads dangerously close to the places that scare us.
“Do not stop until you have the answer.” – Worf
We need to be determined in examining ourselves. Where have we been in life, where are we now, and where do we want to be. We need to be, in point of fact, relentless. If we trace out only the surface level of our psyche, what we find will seem shallow and be found wanting.
What is required of us is the concept of non-judgment. This critical piece is often left out when we look deep into ourselves. It doesn’t matter if this is from a place of deep recollection, as a journal exercise, or as a mere curiosity about yourself. But as the saying goes, what you judge you will end up keeping hidden from yourself.
LAFORGE: Data, what are you doing?
DATA: I am painting.
LAFORGE: I can see that. How long have you been at this?
DATA: I have created twenty three individual illustrations in the past six hours, twenty seven minutes. I believe you could say I have been inspired.
LAFORGE: I’ll say.
DATA: I have done as Captain Picard suggested. I have tried to explore the images.
LAFORGE: Has it helped?
DATA: I am not certain. I began by painting the image of the blacksmith. Then I painted the corridor. After that, the anvil, the hammer, and Doctor Soong’s face. The thought then occurred to me that I should paint smoke.
LAFORGE: Smoke? Why smoke?
DATA: I cannot explain it. It is not an image I saw during my vision.
We have to be willing to explore our lives without logic. Structure is good, as it can help to focus our efforts. But sometimes, we get in our own way in an attempt to do things “the right way”. Let yourself ponder, be curious, and be inspired.
The parts of yourself that you dislike? Explore them as a part of you. That experience you would rather have never, ever gone through? Look at it with the perspective of what you were able to do in order to survive, and in some cases, grow, from it. This can be hard to hear, as it sounds cruel; however, this is more of an act of growing in resilience. Our experiences are past, our memories are ever-present, but the meaning we take from these allows us to either grow or falter.
DATA: I do not understand.
SOONG: You’re not supposed to. No man should know where his dreams come from. It spoils the mystery, the fun. I’m proud of you, son. I wasn’t sure you’d ever develop the cognitive abilities to make it this far. But if you’re here, if you can see me, you’ve crossed over the threshold from being a collection of circuits and subprocessors and have started a wonderful journey.
DATA: What type of journey?
SOONG: Think of it, think of it as an empty sky.
DATA: I do not understand.
SOONG: Shh. Just dream, Data. Dream.
When you go on a trip, you can always use a tour guide. When you do self-exploration, you can use a workbook or a guided exercise to dissect yourself and your life. However, sometimes the structure itself prevents us from growing. We don’t like not understanding what we see, and structure sometimes adds a certain weight on our ability to be inspired.
When we dream, explore, or are curious, we must be open to pursuing things without an agenda. Which is quite the contradiction, since we’re doing this in the first place for specific understanding! Learning to embrace the vagueness and non-clarity of self examination will help you to focus your mind, embrace your heart, and grow closer to who you are and who you will someday become.