My husband loves background noise, especially from movies and TV shows.  I prefer background noise in the form of music or just the sounds of life.

This is how Star Trek: The Next Generation played in our kitchen while he cooked. 

I grew up watching the Next Generation, so I don’t mind this choice of background noise.  And when I keep him company while he cooks, I listen/watch with him. 

This is how I ended up hearing/listening to Season 6: Episode 15 – Tapestry.  When I watched it years ago, I didn’t realize how often the show left you with something to think about.  Something about life, diversity, or leadership that was worth pondering: tapestry was one of those episodes I was left with something to think about.       

The lesson

In the episode, Capitan Jean-Luc has been involved in a fight and is badly injured.  His artificial heart (which he received during a silly bar fight in his youth) is damaged, and he is dying.  Q (an extra-dimensional being of unknown origin who possess immeasurable power of ordinary human notions of time and space) suddenly appears acting as “God.”  Q asks if Jean-Luc has any regrets or feelings of guilt about his former life especially given that he is now dead because of the artificial heart.  Jean-Luc admits that he regrets many things from his youth, including that bar fight that landed him with an artificial heart.  Q then sends Jean-Luc back to change his past to change it. 

Fast forward to the end of the episode.  Jean-Luc played it safe and responsibly during that night at the bar many years ago.  He kept his heart, but his path was altered.  In the present day, he is no longer the Captain.  Instead, he is only a lieutenant junior grade, unable to move up the ranks because he plays it too safe and will not take risks. 

The change in his past changed his future.  The story implies that in this timeline, he has never been willing to do what is necessary to obtain his goals.  His playing it safe has prevented him from standing out and being noticed. 

Jean-Luc begs Q to return him to the bar fight, where he again loses his heart.  His reasoning… he would rather die after living a life he wanted than live the life he now faces.  

As he reflects on what happened with his first officer, he comments that he is thankful for the experience Q put him through.  He has parts of his past that he is not proud of, “there were … loose threads… untidy parts of me that I would like to remove.  But when I pulled on one of those threads, it unraveled the tapestry of my life”. 

What I learned

I found that this episode spoke to me in two ways. 

  1. A reminder that we are who we are because of past experiences.  The good, the bad, and the ugly made us who we are today, and we should be thankful for those experiences. 
  2. To be a leader, to make a difference, you need to take chances, do what others are not willing to do, to stand out. 

These were compelling messages for me. 

There were loose threads, untidy parts of me that would like to remove. But when I pulled on one of those threads, it unraveled the tapesty of my life.

Jean-Luc Picard

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