Wednesday, March 01, 2006

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0097 - Music and Memory

It is definitely my favourite Star Trek - The Next Generation episode - "The Inner Light". In this 1992 (Episode #125, Stardate: 45944.1) hour-long episode, the Enterprise detects a probe which establishes a link with Captain Picard for about 25 minutes. During that length of time, Picard "remembers" his life as Kamin on the planet of Kataan, married to Eline. During his lifetime there, three momentous things happen to him. Kamin and his wife have two children. His scientific research leads him to conclude that their sun will soon supernova, thereby obliterating all life in the star system. And Kamin learns to play the Ressikan flute.

Later in the series ("Lessons"), there would be another reference to Picard's flute playing, but it is this earlier episode which has transfixed me over the years. Today, as I watched the rerun in syndication on The Space Channel, it was almost too much to bear.

One moment especially stands out. Kamin says to his daughter, Meribor, "Seize the day, Meribor. Live now! Make NOW always the most precious time! Now will never come again."

That scene and the scene at the very end of the episode where Picard is back on the Enterprise, adjusting to his life as Captain once again, and he is presented with a box taken from the probe. Inside the box is his beloved Ressikan flute. After Riker leaves, Picard takes the flute out of the box, holds it to his chest, and then plays the piece of music he had composed in his life on Kataan.

Do I need to explain why tears flowed as I watched this episode?

Perhaps not. But for those who don't get it, it's because of the poignant juxtaposition of memory and music, of loss and survival, of integrity and purpose, of determination and gentleness.

There are, inevitably, occasions when the most important thing in the universe we can do is pick up the flute (or other musical instrument) and play a tune. There are times when we must face our destiny, whatever that might be, and realize that memory is the best gift of all to bequeath those who follow. NOW will never come again. In fact, that is all we truly have anyway.

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