Saturday, March 24, 2012

Lessons from a Star Trek Convention.

Nearly a decade ago, my son Scott returned "home" from his LDS mission to Colorado. Home, you see, had relocated from Florida to Hawaii shortly after he left. Wanting to ease this change from Atlantic to Pacific, and to have some time to spend with him, I arranged to fly with him to Oahu to a Star Trek convention in Honolulu. I knew he would love it, and I knew I would be happy to be spending time with him. What surprised me is how much I enjoyed it.

One of my friends told me once that I see everything two ways. It is true that I see object lessons all around me from the plant growing in the crack on the driveway to the bird trying to build a nest in the rafters, so I quite enjoyed the insights the people from Star Trek shared from their life lessons. I thoroughly enjoyed George Takei's talk, especially when he discussed the confusion of being a child held in a Japanese internment camp, starting every school morning with the recitation of The Pledge of Allegiance. He spoke of how confusing it was to say "with liberty and justice for all" as he looked at the fence with the barbed wire on top cutting them off from the rest of the world. It reminded me how confusing it is for children to sort things out when parents say one thing and do another.

Will Wheaton aka Wesley Crusher talked about his transition from an actor to a writer and how hard it was for him to shed the personna of Wesley and become Will. That was also something I could relate to, because we all progress and grow and have things we would rather leave behind.

But the presentation that stayed with me the most was by a fellow whose name I have forgotten. He wasn't one of the actors from the show but a cameraman. When he approached the podium, there was a collective sigh indicating that now that we had heard from a couple of people whose faces we recognized, it was time to hear from someone on the "B list." But he was funny and entertaining and shared many stories from behind the camera. I only remember one of them.

He told about how his neighbor had this huge dog who would leave correspondingly huge piles of dog doo on his lawn. One evening he came home and got out of his car only to discover he had barely missed stepping in another large pile of dog plop. Then he took a closer look and noticed that it really had an interesting texture. Before he had time to talk himself out of it, he grabbed his camera and took some close-up shots of this nice round pile of poo. At this point he smiled and suggested that when watching re-runs of Star Trek we should "keep an eye out for the brown planet."

This gives new meaning to "when life gives you lemons . . ."

Seriously though, what do you do when the neighbor dog of fate poops on the lawn of your life? With lemons you can make lemonade and lemon bars and lemon meringue pie. You are severely limited in your choices when life dishes up a steaming mound of doggy doodoo, cow plop or manure in any of its aromatic varieties. You can fight with the neighbor about the dog and his bathroom habits, hoping for a change, but usually only resulting in a bad relationship with your neighbor. You can leave it there and moan about it, be a victim, pointing it out to all passers by, bringing up your neighbor and his dog. You can clean it up yourself, accepting that there is a certain amount of the stuff in the world and sooner or later you are bound to get your share, and possibly that of several other people. You can leave it there and try to be careful where you step. Or you can use it to fertilize your lemon tree. You see, when life gives you something worse, lemons look good.

You can generally tell when someone has been through something in life bad enough that it gives them perspective about other things. These are the people who don't freak out if they break a fingernail, have a bad hair day or miss a bus. I am never likely to say I am grateful for the losses of my life. I would genuinely like not to have had those experiences, but I am grateful for the growth I've experienced as a result of my trips to The Brown Planet.

Sometimes when I am faced with a disappointment or a challenge, I remind myself that at the age of twenty-six I went to the hospital and identified my husband's body after his accident. Then I ask myself if what I am facing is worse or harder than that. So far, nothing has been, for which I am most grateful. Immediately that brings whatever I am stressing about down to size and gives me the ability to carry on. I have perspective.

I wrote my novel Unfinished Business as a result of that loss. It was my first novel published. Brotherly Love, Push On and Are We There Yet? are the others in the series, following the life of Beverly, my young widowed character. Incidentally, although I have never considered myself a die-hard Star Trek fan, the two main female characters in my first two books are Beverly and Deanna, as in Dr. Beverly Crusher and Deanna Troi from the Star Trek: The Next Generation series. I didn't do that on purpose. It must have been like secondhand smoke as my son watched the show while I was writing and those were the names that popped into my head.

Those four novels were self-published by a small publishing company my husband and I started. My fifth novel, Lucky Change, was published by Cedar Fort. As an unwelcome deposit on my lawn, the major LDS bookstores decided not to carry it, based on a perception that it promotes gambling, although that was certainly not my intention as an author. I think the positive messages contained in the book far outweigh the chance that someone might infer from the content that it is okay to buy a lottery ticket now and then, something I worked hard to show was not a correct choice, but I am far from an impartial observer so don't take my word on it. (Buy the book and decide for yourself.) However, being published by Cedar Fort paved the way for me to become a member of LDStorymakers. The book also became a finalist for a Whitney Award. For those things I am grateful to Cedar Fort for taking a chance on a relatively unknown author.

My books are available on or by emailing me at I also have two ebooks out that are compilations of my Meridian columns. They are called A Beacon Light and Running the River of Life, full of more of my unique insights about life, and also available in paperback.

This sales pitch at the end is because this blog is supposed to be all about promotion and selling books and, like Captain Picard says, I am the only one who can "make it so."

1 comment:

  1. Great insights Susan. Keep up the good work! I have been thinking recently about why I am where I am, doing what I am doing for work. Basically I am helping to clean up someone else's horrendously huge piles of poo and trying to be positive about it. Thanks for the perspective.