Hello, old friend, and here we are.
Things look bleak in the world right now, I know. Just about every headline makes you feel like all hope is lost and there is no way out or any sign that things will ever get any better. Yet for those who know, all it takes is that sound — that wheezing, groaning sound that brings hope everywhere it goes and it’s in that moment… that the Doctor is in.
“Doctor Who” is a British television program aired on BBC One. It started airing on November 23, 1963 and it’s still growing strong with its phenomenal, dedicated team and fanbase that refuses to let it die out. Many who are not familiar with the show’s premise ask, however, “How is it that a 53-year-old science fiction show that was originally meant for children still relevant to this very day?”
Perhaps, it is in the lessons that promote hope, empathy, and friendship that transcend and unify people from different cultures, all over the world. No matter their creed or colour, there are moments within the show’s narrative that can touch everyone. Here are eight of them.
“Every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa; the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make them unimportant.” – The Eleventh Doctor, “Vincent and the Doctor” (Series 5, Episode 10).
There are times in life when it seems like everything is against you and you feel trapped in this endless cycle. Every day is a bad day and tomorrow is just another opportunity for things to get worse. You lose all your savings and most of your friends, you deal with a funeral every week, your dog dies, you lose your job, and just when you think you’ve hit rock bottom, life drags you down even lower.
You might ask yourself, “What’s the point in waking up tomorrow?”
This would be a good time to remember this particular moment in the show. The Doctor and Amy Pond went back in time and met Vincent Van Gogh, one of the greatest artists in history. He turned his pain into incredible beauty that the people of his time did not, then, know how to appreciate.
The Doctor reminded Amy that though Vincent fought many inner demons and bad days as well, there were times that made him happy and made him feel hopeful. There is always something good in life, no matter how bad it gets — know that this is just as true for you, too.
“Sometimes, the only choices you have are bad ones. But you still have to choose.” – The Twelfth Doctor, “Mummy on the Orient Express” (Series 8, Episode 8).
Then, there are these days and there are these decisions to make.
Life is not always a measure of absolute right and wrongs. Sometimes, you have to let people go for your own good, no matter how hard it hurts. There are situations in life that people cannot always back away from and this is something the Doctor had to face in this episode.
He had to risk the life of someone else, just for the chance to save everyone else on a train. If he were to fail, the woman he’d risked would die and he would have to risk another, and another, and another until he were to eventually win, as he’d said. Yet, with no one else on the train with his knowledge or brain power, what other choice was there?
In life, fairytale endings aren’t always possible. It’s okay to make peace with that, and it’s okay to forgive yourself, too.
“Tomorrow is promised to no one, Doctor, but I insist upon my past. I am entitled to that. It’s mine.” – Clara Oswald, “Hell Bent” (Series 9, Episode 12).
Now, when you have made peace with your decisions, it is time to hold yourself accountable to them.
The events in the episodes “Heaven Sent” and “Hell Bent” all transpire due to a mistake Clara Oswald made in “Face the Raven”, the 10th episode in the series. She got too sure of herself and her Doctor-like recklessness cost her life. This resulted in the Doctor enduring 4 and ½ billion years of suffering and death in his own personal hell just for the chance to see and save her.
In this scene, the Doctor wants to take away all of her memories of him and then leave her somewhere she could be safe. Clara insists on taking the consequences of her actions, stating that her mistakes and her past are her own, and that she would not trade them for anything else.
Take this moment with you as you go with your life as you remember Clara Oswald (someone’s got to, am I, right?) and know that your life is your own. Take accountability for yourself and live your life with dignity. The mistakes that you’ve made in your life have helped shape you into who you are. Learn from them and insist upon your being, as Clara has. You’ll be better for it.
“I spent a lot of time with you thinking I was second best. But you know what? I am good.” – Martha Jones, “Last of the Time Lords” (Series 3, Episode 13).
Once you have accepted who you are, it is important to stand up for what you know you deserve.
The Tenth Doctor treated Martha Jones like a rebound to the previous companion, Rose Tyler. Though Rose had a spectacular run on her own, Martha spent her journeys with him trying to prove to him that she was just as good but he constantly yearned for another. Finally, Martha had enough and left him at the end of series 3 as she knew she was owed better.
When people don’t appreciate you, or mistreat you, Martha Jones has the perfect solution: “Get out.”
Understand that you are never second best to anyone and you are always the best you that anyone could ever be. In times of trouble or self-doubt, put a hand against your heart and say her words, because you know what? You are good.
“Do I have the right?” – The Fourth Doctor, “Genesis of the Daleks – Part 6” (1975).
From that high of knowing how good you are, it is also important to keep yourself grounded and humble.
In “Genesis of the Daleks”, one of the greatest speeches in Doctor Who history, the Doctor has the chance to wipe out the existence of the Daleks. The Daleks, for those who don’t know, are pretty much the evilest aliens ever, bar none. They want the extermination of every species that is inferior to them, aka everyone else.
There, the Doctor had the chance to prevent their existence, saving billions of lives across time and space. The only catch is that if he kills them all, what makes him so different from his enemy? Does he have the right?
This is an important moment to live by as it is humbling to know that sometimes, it’s not always your call to make. You don’t always get to decide what constitutes as right or wrong.
“Fear is a superpower. Fear can make you faster and cleverer and stronger. If you’re very wise and very strong, fear doesn’t have to make you cruel or cowardly. Fear can make you kind.” – Clara Oswald, “Listen” (Series 8, Episode 4).
Just like that, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer immensity of it all. You may have one day that you suddenly realize how much you don’t know, how much you haven’t seen, and you might feel like you’re running out of time.
Fear is inescapable and people feel it in any number of ways. Sometimes, fear can make people act in hate and discrimination. They’re afraid of what they don’t know. Then, there are other times when fear can make you reach out a helping hand and be kind.
It’s in how you look at it that makes the difference. So, look at this speech from Clara now, as she comforts a younger Doctor who thinks she’s just a dream.
“You don’t just give up. You don’t just let things happen. You make a stand. You say no. You have the guts to do what’s right when everyone else just runs away.” – Rose Tyler, “The Parting of the Ways” (Series 1, Episode 13).
There are times in life, however, when fear comes from having to make a stand for something you believe in.
Rose Tyler, the first “NuWho” companion, makes his passionate speech when her mother and then-boyfriend encourage her to move on from the Doctor, after he presumably decides to sacrifice himself to save her and the rest of the universe. Her integrity gets the better of her and she insists on finding away, on making a stand for what’s right even when it’s scary or even impossible.
There will be moments like this in your life, too. Perhaps, it might be comfortable to just stay where you are and let life pass you by. You can choose to bear witness to events around you and proclaim that it has nothing to do with you. It’s either that or you choose to keep trying and you keep fighting or what you know is true, good, and right.
“Let me be brave.” – Clara Oswald, “Face the Raven” (Series 9, Episode 10).
Lastly, there is this.
In the context of this series arc, Clara Oswald remained true to herself and followed her desires. She wanted to travel and have adventures with the man she loves, her best friend: the Doctor. She went for it and she did it beautifully. Clara lived her dreams and she went on amazing adventures.
In the end, she made a mistake with the best intention of saving the life of her friend, and she took it all in stride. Clara forbade blame on anyone else but herself and asked that nobody else should suffer because of what she did.
Take Clara Oswald’s example and live every day towards your dreams while still caring for your loved ones. Every day, there is something different to defeat and every day, it looks different. Sometimes, it wears the mask of disappointment. Other days, it is anxiety or stress. Come what may, it is important to remain grounded in who you are, let yourself be brave, and face it, head on.
Live by these Doctor Who moments every day and you might just find yourself in the extraordinary situation of living your life like the adventure you want it to be. Until then, there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties.