Lately, my new Netflix indulgence is Star Trek: Next Generation, the best of them, in my opinion. A few episodes mention the “Prime Directive,” which prohibits Starfleet personnel from interfering with the internal development of alien civilizations. Whether they’re travelling through time, or protecting a planet or civilization from utter destruction, this is the go-to rule they must obey at all times.
I feel like the last few years, I’ve been violating my own personal Prime Directive, in a way. I’ve been interfering with my own development. True, moving to Sydney, then back to San Francisco after leaving, and now to Seattle, one could argue I’m only distracting myself from real development. Anything I need to deal with will follow me wherever I go. I never thought of it as running away, but I certainly wasn’t staying put and choosing “through” as the way to get past whatever was in front of me.
Yes, perhaps I’ve not taken the straightest, most efficient path. It’s a bit more of a curly doodle than a straight line… but it’s my path, and the roads were not always paved. I’ve done some hard miles, but I’d like to think I still learned things, even if I was perhaps traveling sideways instead of forward.
Thanks to the ever-present constant in physics of time, technically, I can say I was moving forward, in that time moved on, with or without me.
Another pearl of wisdom I picked up from a recent episode of Star Trek came in the second season, once Whoopi Goldberg joined the cast as the Guinan, the intergalactic bartender. I want that job. But I digress…
Wesley Crusher, the child prodigy of the Enterprise, fell in love with a young woman, and seeks advice from Guinan. She told him, “Every time you feel love, it’ll feel different.”
Those words hit hard. Damn, she’s good. It’s true! The things I love about one person are unique to them. Even if someone else had those same qualities, they probably wouldn’t have the exact combination of attributes that I love in someone else. Each person I encounter brings out something different in me. What resonates in me with each person is its own song. I connect with certain people over some things, but not others. Every love is unique.
When it comes to love, I wish I could say I abided by my own Prime Directive even more. Just once, I’d like to not in get in my own way, sabotaging myself from the outset by overthinking it, fantasizing, imagining, expecting, worrying, doubting, wanting it too much, forcing it, rather than letting it grow organically and naturally evolve.
The Prime Directive intrigues me, because in theory, it’s a great idea. But it’s also wholly subjective. What one interprets as a natural course of actions may indeed be interfering, when viewed from another perspective.
Take the Efficient Markets Hypothesis, for example, which states it is impossible to “beat the market” because stock market efficiency causes existing share prices to always incorporate and reflect all relevant information. There is no arbitrage because all information gaps which can lead to arbitrage simply don’t exist under this assumption. We all know the market is not perfect, nor does everyone have all information at any given time. So the Efficient Markets Hypothesis sounds wonderful in a vacuum, but it’s just not how it is.
That’s how I think about the Prime Directive. It’s almost a paradox, because all the interference by a member of Starfleet could be said to stop development, but that interference with every being one encounters IS development. We learn from every encounter. How can we interact without developing somehow? Every love feels different and is different, and has an impact, even if immeasurable.
In the end, I have to be the person I was meant to be. San Francisco, Sydney, Seattle… they are all places that have contributed, or will, to the me that I am. If living in those cities was wrong, I don’t wanna be right. Working at the company I have for the last 11+ years was not interfering with my development, despite moments of feeling distinctly that, but it was necessary for me, in order to be the person I am today.