Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Finding the Good

Bear with me. Yes, I'm about to talk Star Trek, but there's more to it. Actually, if you're a fan of the TV franchise, you know that there's alway more to it than simple entertainment.

This past weekend, Biz and I set out for the Star Trek convention being held in Chicago at the Westin near O'Hare. The big draw for us this time was the fact that the entire cast from Star Trek: The Next Generation was reuniting on stage on Saturday. Yes, it was a separate ticket and yes, it was a little bit expensive, but -- these folks had provided years of fabulous entertainment. We were in!

I'll talk a little about the cast and the convention on my Thursday, June 9th blog at The Cozy Chicks, but I'd like to go a bit more in depth here today.

The entire convention was fun. The programming - which mostly consisted of the stars on stage, fielding fan questions - was adequate. The hotel was lovely. And meeting Patrick Stewart was just plain cool.

Want to know the best parts of the weekend? LeVar Burton on Sunday, and the Star Trek Karaoke on Saturday night.

Rene Auberjonois and Nana Visitor at karaoke.
They're amazing. Great fun!
I'm going to wait a second and let you catch your breath on that one. Yes, I said Star Trek Karaoke.

For the record, I've never been to a karaoke before in my life. And before we get too far into the story, I did NOT sing. For those of you unlucky enough to have ever heard me attempt to carry a tune, you know why I didn't sign up. For everyone else: Trust me. I'm bad. Biz didn't sign up either, and we planned to pop in for a few minutes and see how it went. Neither of us expected to stay longer than 15 - 20 minutes. We stayed three hours.

A brave man between two Bynars,
performing "Afternoon Delight"
It was fabulous! We were blown away, repeatedly, by the talented singers on stage. There's nothing cooler than watching a man in a Khan-era Kirk uniform belting out a song that gets people up and dancing in the aisles. One after another, singers took the stage and captured our attention. Biz turned to me and said, "This isn't how karaoke usually is. These people are GOOD!"

There were, of course, a couple of singers who were a little weaker, but they still garnered enthusiastic applause. The one thing about Star Trek is how inclusive it is. And we could see it, feel it, here. We were in this giant ballroom where most people didn't know one another. The only thing that had brought us together was our appreciation of the Trek universe and all it stands for.

And... it was like being immersed in goodness. I wanted to capture that spirit and bring it back with me to the real world. No one felt awkward, no one was left out. The joy in the room was almost palpable. Everyone clapped and danced and sang along. Everyone, whether a good performer or someone whose voice quivered, was utterly comfortable in this crowd.

Two fellows, who were not part of the group, wandered in late. Maybe around 11:30. One of them sat next to me and pointed at the young woman on stage. "She doesn't belong up there," he said with a sneer. "Doesn't she realize how bad she is?"

I turned to him. "Don't you get it? This is Star Trek. Everyone is included. We don't belittle, we don't make fun of one another."

He was drunk (definitely not synthehol!) and clearly didn't get it. Biz and I left shortly thereafter.

The next day, we listened to LeVar Burton talk about building bridges between people. About finding what our purpose is in life. About working together. About learning. About making the world a better place. I was moved by his talk and - coupled with the experience from the night before -  it made me think about how I could capture the evening's spirit in spite of negative naysayers (like the drunk guy), and share it with the world.

I'm still thinking about that and I hope to come up with ideas as I move forward. For now, I'm starting small. I've always been a person who leans toward finding the good - in people, in situations, in life. My goal now will be to work harder at that. It's often easier to lapse into negativity. It's tempting to make fun of others because their choices don't align with mine. I'm determined to stop doing that, as much as possible. Little by little I'm going to work harder to find the good.

The sharp contrast between the joy of the Star Trek crowd and the cynical outsider really brought things home for me. I'm not saying that everyone who follows ST is good and everyone who doesn't, isn't. I'm saying that there are people who include others, and people who exclude others. People who find the positive, and people who find the negative.

I know which kind of person I want to be.