He woke to find himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not his own and driven by an unknown force to change history for the better.
His only guide on this journey is Al, an observer from his own time, who appears in the form of a hologram that only Sam can see and hear.
And so Dr. Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong, and hoping each time that his next leap will be the leap home.”
Influence and guidance.
We all have them in our lives. Religion, politics, what have you.
I grew up a child of pop culture, and a lot of my morals, beliefs and convictions came from what I was exposed to or sought out.
Now before you roll your eyes, and feel pity for that concept, let me show you what I mean.
From Star Trek, I learned acceptance of other cultures and beliefs, a complete lack of racism, and to avoid pre-judging those I encounter. The fact that we can be all better together than we could ever be separately, best exemplified by the Vulcan concept of the IDIC, Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination.Now, occasionally that may make me naive in some situations, but I would rather this open-minded naiveté then to be close-minded and cynical. Above all, it taught me hope. That we as a species, can survive these growing pains that we’re going through, that we can be better.
From Star Wars, I discovered the use of myth, and story telling (obviously I’m talking about the original trilogy on that mark) which led me to Joseph Campbell, and mythology of the world and its religions.
From Indiana Jones I learned not only to be stubborn, and to keep getting up when you get knocked down, but also that knowledge, where we have come from, is just as important to know as where we are going.
Jones is a professor of archaeology and he knows his history as well. It’s these things that give him that edge over his competition (sometimes). But he supports the concept of seeking out knowledge.
He tells his class that most of their work is done in the library, research, reading.
In that manner, he showed me, much like Trek, that it should be the expansion of our minds and our cultures that should be uniting us. We shouldn’t be dumbing ourselves down.
Now I realize what I just said, saying we shouldn’t be dumbing ourselves down while talking about pop culture. But not all pop culture is about dumbing us down (though some of it really seems to be doing its best).
There is intelligence, worthwhile beliefs and shared knowledge to be found amongst the gristle if one looks.
But when it comes to things that have shaped my moral codes, Trek shaped my early self, but then in 1989, along came a show that spoke to me on an emotional level.
Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell through their characters, became dearest friends.
Al Calavicci was a bit of a drunk, a multiple divorcee and a womanizer before Sam recruited him for Project Starbright and then later Project Quantum Leap. Right there, you learn forgiveness, and second chances.
Which is kind of what Leap is about, creating second chances, setting things right that once went wrong.
Now I’m not going to argue about timelines, paradoxes, or freewill…
I’m going to talk about Sam Beckett.
Once again, a smart character, he holds several doctorates, and speaks a number of languages… See, smart is good, open-mindedness is good, not something to be vilified. The seeking out of knowledge not the obfuscation of it, or the sticking of our collective heads in the sand because we don’t want to accept truths that we don’t agree with.
The one thing Sam taught me most of all, is to do what’s right, no matter the personal cost to oneself. He sacrifices the chance to go home, to keep trying to make things better for everyone else.
Sam is a boy scout. He believes in the best for people, the idea of second chances, and giving people his trust.
All ideas that I’ve tried to adopt for myself.
But there’s more.
I was in a relationship that imploded, through no fault of our own. We were just completely opposite in beliefs, and ideas for the future.
Through my belief and support I think I helped her, a little, to get her life underway.
And the more I looked through my life, I found little things like that. I imagine most of us could.
I had spent my life moving around the planet, through no control of my own, and meeting all manner of people, creating friendships, and helping people when I could.
Is it any surprise that I saw correlations?
Through the entire series, Sam was my avatar. I related to so much of what he was going through, the desire to see people happy, that things are Right, the desire to find my own home.
Their Halloween episode freaked me out, not because of all the spooky things that go on, but the fact that the image of Al, Sam’s best friend, is used against him, and in fact assaults him. That scared me most of all, the idea of someone you trust and care for turning against you so viciously.
Watching the way Sam was treated when he was Jimmy, or a woman, or a criminal, just made me wonder at how we as a species continue to get by.
We CAN be so much better.
But Sam continued on, determined to see the best in everyone.
I try to foster that in myself, though I know I don’t always succeed.
That’s not all they helped me with.
I went through some very emotionally dark times during the run of the series, and after it, and to put it lightly, I did waver on the edge of the abyss a few times.
But the beliefs portrayed by the characters, of all the films and shows I’ve listed helped get me through, as well as a number of people who I count among my closest circle of friends, and I’m fairly sure you know who you are, my own Kate Beckett, D’Argo, and Sue.
When I learned that Scott and Dean (who I already had a chance to meet once at Fan Expo two years back) were going to be in attendance at the Wizard World Comic Con, I knew I had to write this article.
I don’t know if I’ll have a chance to say these things to Scott and Dean at the con, one of the main reasons of course is that we’ll be manning our fan table.
So I wanted to put this message out there into the ether of the web in the hopes that they may hear about it one day.
Scott, Dean (sorry, I just feel like I’m on a first name basis), Thank You. Thank you both for getting me through. For showing me that we can be all that we can be.
Thank you for showing me that doing the right thing isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth doing. No matter the cost.
There were times, when Leap served as a security blanket, lines of dialogue were almost a mantra.
I was able to transpose myself onto Sam’s character, and through him, see that my own problems could be solved. It wouldn’t always be easy, but if it was, wouldn’t we all be doing it that way all the time?
I solved them, with help. I worked them through, and I think, I came out so much better on the other side. It’s been a long road, and I’m still on the journey.
But each step, each leap, gets me closer to somewhere I can call my own.