I just watched “Barge of the Dead,” which is an episode of Star Trek: Voyager. You know, there are some episodes of shows that I like to watch more than once, since they speak to something within me. This is one such episode.
In “Barge of the Dead,” B’Elanna Torres goes to Klingon hell. As Star Trek: Voyager viewers know, B’Elanna is an interesting character. Her mother was a Klingon (and an obsessive one at that), while her father was a human. She dropped out of the Star Fleet Academy and joined the Maquis, a renegade group that resisted Cardassian tyranny. When the Maquis encountered Voyager in the far-out Delta Quadrant, the two groups teamed up to find their way home. On Voyager, B’Elanna is a Star Fleet engineer.
She is often very moody, yet she displays a lovable, vulnerable side every now and then. On this particular episode, we get to know her a little better. Essentially, B’Elanna has problems fitting in anywhere. She doesn’t care for her Klingon heritage, for her mother tried to shove it down her and her dad’s throats. In the process, she drove B’Elanna’s father away. B’Elanna also doesn’t like humans because she sees them as weak, and her Klingon heritage leads her to admire tough warriors. Yet, ironically, she is engaged to Tom Paris, a human on Voyager.
In Klingon hell, she decides to take the place of her mother, yet (for some reason) that is not enough. In despair, she cries out to her mother, “What do you want from me?” Her mother tells her that she must decide that for herself, yet B’Elanna continues to plead for guidance.
She encounters images of her Voyager crewmates, which means that she views her service on the ship as hell. They say that her anger has dragged them down along with herself. The vulcan, Tuvok, tells her to defend herself, as he throws her a Klingon weapon. B’Elanna then complains that she has tried to fulfill all of these roles: Star Fleet officer, Maquis, lover, and daughter. She asks what all of them want from her. Neelix, the cook, responds that they only want her. B’Elanna’s mother tells her to embrace life, and B’Elanna finally reaches a point of resignation. “I’m just tired of fighting,” she says, as she tosses her weapon into the air.
One reason I identify with B’Elanna is that she lacks inner peace. She is always fighting with someone because her main fight is with herself. She doesn’t know who she is and where she is going. She is lost. I feel that way a lot of times.
Yet, she seeks answers. She wants someone to tell her what to do. I cried during this part of the show because I was thinking about that very thing this morning, before I even saw the episode. I thought about how I stumble through this life feeling lost. I don’t know what people want from me, or even if I can give them what they want. And virtually everyone has advice. “You need to be the life of the party–a super extrovert. People aren’t attracted to those who are reclusive!” “You need to be yourself–be at peace, then people will be attracted to you.” “You need to speak out more at events.” “No, just listen, then you can hear something that can help you out.” “Do this, do that!” “No, do them when you’re truly ready!”
I realize that I’ve probably confused my readers, but I hear all of this advice, and I don’t know who’s right. I recognize that certain approaches work for me better than others. For example, beating myself up because I’m not the life of the party has never produced good fruit in my life. So should I only follow advice that I like? The problem there is that I don’t fully trust myself, for I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the past.
When The Passion of the Christ was coming out, Mel Gibson gave an interview to Diane Sawyer. Mel was telling the story of his commitment to Christ. He said that he once stood out on a ledge, and he found himself in a dilemma: he didn’t want to live, and he didn’t want to die. He realized that someone higher than him had to have the answers for life.
I need guidance, yet I also should do what works for me. I can only be me, not someone else. I want to be attractive, yet that will be hard if it requires me to have something witty to say on every occasion. Maybe, like B’Elanna, I’ll eventually reach the point where I’m just plain tired of fighting, as I embrace all of the good things that life has to offer.