Many of my life choices are based on two questions that I ask myself: What would the Doctor’s companion do, and what would the Doctor do?
These questions have influenced some surface-level things. Are my shoes comfortable enough to be able to run on a moment’s notice? If I were a companion, or the Doctor, is this the outfit that cosplayers would put together with painstaking attention to detail? Does this particular accessory come in a shade of blue that captures the spirit of all of time and space?
But the influence runs deeper than that. The casual misogyny I grew up with as a result of living in a Midwestern suburb with Catholic parents has been undone by watching these companions be amazing people. (Martha Jones, in particular, is my favorite.) The choices the characters face are hard, harrowing, and thinking about what I would do in their situation makes me wonder if my standard of measuring right and wrong is perfectly calibrated. I’ve gotten it into my head that if I can’t make the right choices, then how could I ever expect to be a person good enough to be traveling with the Doctor? Or to be the Doctor?
For the most part, I like to think that I would be the kind of person the Doctor would take along. Just smart and brave enough to help out on a regular basis, and enough to keep him grounded, to remind him why what he does matters, and to keep him from hurting others and himself. I like to think that I am reliable enough for that job.
And I work hard to be that person more and more every day. I keep an open mind, keep finding more things to be curious about in the world, keep quietly living a life where I try and do the right thing, and try to understand what the right thing is.
That’s why stories matter. Though my craze for Doctor Who has died down (it’s not quite at the level of staying up all night on the sidewalk in line to watch “The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon” in an East Village theater, which I did do), this show is still with me. I still try and be the person in reality the person I want to be in fiction.
I am still critical of the show. Whenever I watch an episode, I write pages and pages of what I thought about it, and read the opinions of others to see the different aspects I hadn’t thought about. I don’t take it on blind faith that this show is the end-all, be-all of how I should live my life. But the show still inspires me to think critically about the things that entertain me, makes me think about what I should do differently in my day-to-day life as a result of what I learn from this show.
Art should be more than an escape. It should provide you with some way of shaping reality into a good place for you and for others.
What would the Doctor say if it were otherwise?
This post is in response to today’s Daily Prompt: Fourth Wall.