My oldest daughter loves Star Trek (too bad you can’t see my proud, gushy parent moment as I say that). Her favorite episode to watch at 7 years old is Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 2: Episode 1: “The Child” because one of her favorite characters, Deanna Troi, has a baby and babies are sooooooo adorable, Mom! Needless to say, I’ve watched this episode more than 7 times….a lot. I’ve seen this episode a lot.
Yes, the baby is cute and Deanna Troi was one of my favorite character too when I was a little girl but I actually like this episode for a different reason. There’s this neat conversation that happens between young teen Wesley Crusher and the wise bartender, Guinan, of Ten Forward (the social lounge on the Enterprise-D).
Wesley is bummed because he’s leaving the Enterprise but doesn’t truly want to leave. When he says that it’s more important to go against his own wishes and to instead think of others, Guinan sets him straight and lets him know that you have to “give yourself permission to be selfish” sometimes too. Yes, you do, Guinan! The whole conversation is here:
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season 2: Episode 1: “The Child” After Guinan asks Wesley several times if she can get him a drink…
Guinan: What about a cup of nectar, direct from Prometheus?
Wesley: No, nothing! That’s the third time you’ve asked me.
Guinan: It’s what I’m expected to do. Don’t you always do what’s expected?
Wesley: I try.
Guinan: Even if it’s not what you really want?
Wesley: Sometimes. Sometimes it’s more important to consider others before yourself.
Guinan: Yes. But sometimes the game is to know when to consider yourself before others. Give yourself permission to be selfish.
Yes, that is the game, Guinan! Why do I love this scene? Because Guinan is a badass. And, like always, she’s right. There’s this really jacked up idea floating around our culture telling us that putting ourselves first, taking care of ourselves, & treating ourselves with respect and love is selfish and therefore distasteful. Because of this, a lot of us get the message loud and clear that we need to be caretakers and sacrifice our own joy and wellness for the benefit of others; that it makes us “good” people. However, living our lives like that doesn’t make us “good” – it makes us bat-shit crazy! We commonly become exhausted and (many times) physically sick. At worst, we morph into completely insane, resentful, and pissed off people with strong tendencies to act like victims in our own lives…on top of being exhausted and physically ill. That sounds terrible to me.
What I know in my heart to be true after a lot of personal work and Al-Anon is this: we are meant to take care of ourselves because we are meant to love and cherish and honor ourselves. And when you love and cherish and honor someone – you want to take care of him or her. It just makes sense. When we are not taking care of ourselves, we will eventually run out of steam and have nothing left to give to others anyway. We have to come first in our own lives. Our joy, our wellness, our dreams, and our wants – they come first. Then, when we are so filled up with self-love and happiness and wellness – then we can selflessly give to others and it’s a blessing for everyone. Then, it’s a win-win situation. I believe this is the way life is meant to be lived. Guinan knew it too and I don’t think you need to have the same mysterious “awareness” that Guinan and the other El-Aurians seem to possess to come to the same conclusion.