When I was eleven, a televised version of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” aired. Since props were expressly minimal, actors had to work extra hard. They often had to mime actions. Viewers were forced to use their imaginations. At the time my parents got three channels, I’m not sure what it was that glued my eleven-year-old self to the story.
“Our Town” starts like most stories: boy falls for the girl next door, they marry, an unfortunate tragedy strikes and she dies giving birth. Unlike most stories, Emily, the newly deceased girl next door, is allowed to go back in time and revisit the day of her 12th birthday as an unseen observer. I was heartbroken as the desperate, time-traveling Emily tries and fails to communicate with family and friends. Sadly, she returns to her place among the dead, realizing that one can’t go back. She only really visited a memory.
In “The Inner Light,” one of my favorite “Star Trek: The Next Generation” episodes, Captain Piccard is rendered unconscious by an alien probe. In the span of 20 unconscious minutes, Piccard lives the equivalent of a lifetime where he falls in love, marries, procreates and witnesses the death of his family, friends and fellow villagers. Regaining consciousness, Piccard has the daunting task of reconciling love and loss with his present life.
The common plot thread evident between the two very different genres is poignant. We’re forever reminded of the fleeting, fragility of life. If given the opportunity, similar to Emily most everyone would love to reconnect to a happy or special moment in time, but also similar to Emily we would realize that it’s just a memory. Like Piccard, we have to reconcile our past with our present and try to make the most of our gifted journey.
Author: Felisa McCarver
Author Bio: A writer/producer from Nashville, Tennessee that actually has a wicked sense of humor even though you wouldn’t know it from this article.
Link to social media or website: http://felisa.mccarver.com