“I’m mailing something to you tomorrow that I hope you will like (it may be blog worthy!) Let me know when you receive it!”
Those were the words with which my friend Bonnie signed off her email.
Over the last six months or so Bonnie and I had become friends. We have yet to meet in person, but we’ve already corresponded more consistently than I have with almost anyone else in recent times due to the time constraints of being a busy entrepreneur. Our relationship began as a result of Bonnie’s interest in my Star Trek paintings, which first came to her attention via a friend of hers (Stevie) from ‘across the pond’ in Scotland.
Bonnie herself has been a Star Trek fan since the show began in the late 1960s, going to many conventions and collecting memorabilia over the subsequent decades. As a result of her long-time fandom, she developed an ongoing friendship with Leonard Nimoy, whom she first met in the 1970s. The friendship lasted over 40 years, until his death in 2015. Bonnie’s friendships within the Trek community have not been limited to Leonard, however, but also extends out to a number of figures that hold an important place in the history of this incredible show.
One of these figures is Richard Michelson. Richard was a close friend of Leonard Nimoy and represented Leonard’s work through his art galleries. In 2016, Richard wrote and published a book called “Fascinating: The Life of Leonard Nimoy”. It is a children’s book, recounting and illustrating Leonard’s trajectory from child to adulthood in pursuit and achievement of a dream.
When the package that Bonnie emailed about arrived, I opened it with great curiosity! There inside, was a copy of Richard Michelson’s book. Upon opening it, I discovered an inscription:
“For Kavita – who captures Leonard’s Spock in all his moods better than anyone I know – May you live long and prosper with your beautiful and “Fascinating” paintings.” – Rich Michelson 2019
It was such a meaningful gift, made even more so by the inscription. And as I read Leonard Nimoy’s story within, I was reminded, in a very real way of the journey that I myself am on. Like Leonard’s, my journey is one that is motivated by a deep love – his was the love of acting, mine is of the love of painting, coupled with the philosophical drive to be a noble human being. Neither of us were in pursuit of a specific outcomes on our journey, and as such could not have predicted how they would unfold.
You see, two and a half years ago, I started my series of Spock paintings because the character and his unique representation of nobility spoke deeply to me. I had no plans for these paintings other than to have a personal, visual ‘conversation’ about the character’s meaning to me and to be able to sit in the company of these conversations. I did not even know how many pieces I would create…I was just creating…a complete and utter labour of love!
Driven by this deep internal love of the ‘conversation’ as my north star, I honestly was blind-sided when I started to receive such overwhelmingly positive response from fans for my work. I never imagined that my pieces would become officially licensed collector items, and now be in homes across the world; some in countries that I have yet to visit. It amazes me that Leonard’s family has personally approved my work. And being asked to paint Nichelle Nichols’ official farewell portrait is honestly one of the highlights of my experiences so far… and beyond anything I ever considered possible! None of this was planned… not even a little bit. I was, and still am, simply following that which I love.
As I read through Richard’s book I was struck by the moments in which things were particularly hard for Leonard and how they were often followed by times when providence seemed to smile upon him along his way. As the venerated Joseph Campbell, author of “The Hero With A Thousand Faces” (1949) would point out, both these highs and lows must appear along the journey of the archetypal hero. And are we not all “the hero” within our own story? Are we not all subject to this rising and falling landscape?
My own story has been no exception to this rule. Despite the incredible things that have occurred to date with my Trek paintings, there have already been moments where the journey has required me to dig deep and harness real courage, resilience, introspection, and self-mastery. In other words, the journey has, at times, been genuinely challenging, but I believe that this is precisely why it has been so worth taking. We are each on our own journeys specifically to encounter challenges. For in facing these challenges, we evolve, rising to our highest natures. And in the end, it is this rise that makes the journey well and truly a “fascinating” gift.