Updated: Sep 10, 2020
It’s no secret that I love Data. In fact, my own journey of self discovery was greatly enhanced by watching Data’s progression. I even named my first cat, an orange & white tabby, DC Snuggles. The DC stood for Data’s Cat.
I idolized Spock as a child. I thought the best super power in the world was being able to control my emotions. That way people would never have the satisfaction of knowing that they had hurt me. But I wasn’t Spock.
Then Data came along. He was an android. Perfectly in control. And he wanted more than anything to be human and experience emotions. Ouch.
In the Second Season episode Peak Performance, Data is defeated by an obnoxious Zakdorn opponent in a game of Strategema. Poor Data is plunged into a sea of self doubt. How could he possibly lose against a humanoid opponent? He decides he must be malfunctioning, and removes himself from duty. That’s when Picard comes in and tells Data:
“It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness. That is life.”
When I fail, I start second guessing myself. I get so paralyzed with fear that I start asking everyone else what to do. Instead, I need to listen to my intuition more. I know deep down the right choices, and I know what I need. But I often don’t listen.
Data had to learn how to stop second guessing himself and, well…trust his intuition. Peak Performance showed us his first steps towards embracing his humanity.
When Data played a Strategema rematch against Kolrami, he dared to be original and play the game on his terms. He didn’t play to win, but played for a draw. Faced with an endless match, his opponent quit in anger. Going for the win is not as important as being true to yourself. Because if you are true to yourself, you do win. As did Data.
I am hard wired for intuition and empathy. I can’t push those things away. They are part of who I am. They fuel my creativity. I can’t be anyone other than who I am. I’ve tried. It’s a miserable way to live. Data helped me learn to appreciate my gifts. Even the ones that sometimes cause pain. Because guess what? If you mute your emotions, you mute them ALL.
That includes friendship, love, and joy. I had to decide to say “yes” to the emotion chip and embrace my humanity. Thanks Data.