I had a dream the other night. In it, I was sad and afraid and heartsick about something. And I found myself in an office, a strange office that I didn’t recognize. In the office there was a curtain. I pulled back the curtain, and at a desk behind it sat Gene Roddenberry. There he was, the creator of Star Trek himself, his presence all the more remarkable for his having died in 1991.
Gene saw that I was sad down to my bones, that I was in pain and sorrow and despair. And do you know what he did? He put his arm around me and said softly, “It’s all right, son. Everything is going to be all right. It’ll get better; you’ll see.” And in the reassuring presence of no less than the Great Bird of the Galaxy himself, I felt better. I had to believe things were going to be better because Gene said so. It had to be true, coming from him. I never had the honor of meeting Gene before he died. As you know, I spent a good deal of time in his real office, but I never actually met him. But for so many years Gene has been one of the people who stood at my shoulder and showed me who I wanted to be. If Gene said I would be all right, it must be so.
Then, all at once, we weren’t in Gene’s office any more. We were in a dining room, having dinner together. I think there were some other people there; I don’t remember them as clearly. Jeri Taylor, the Executive Producer of Star Trek Voyager, may have been there. Brannon Braga may have been there too. Someone was serving the meal; I think it may have been Braga. (Look back over the recent LA Trek posts.) But in the dream, I was comforted, my heart put more at ease. I don’t know why my dream sent Gene Roddenberry specifically to me. It could as easily have been Jack Kirby, who with Stan Lee gave me The Fantastic Four. At the tenth anniversary of his death, Jack appeared to the Fantastic Four, George Burns-like, as God himself, to see them to the end of one of the darkest chapters of their lives. (Fantastic Four #511; look it up.) But I do believe that dreams are the way the mind processes information in a way that it can’t do when we’re awake, and that when we’re dreaming we are communicating with ourselves. My sleeping mind was trying to tell me something, and it got my attention in a way it knew I couldn’t miss. It sent me one of my heroes. Though I never made Gene’s acquaintance, as I said, there must be some important part of him that lives with me so many years after he left Earthly life.
Next: On to another of my heroes, Rod Serling, and the 50th Anniversary of The Twilight Zone!