Clutter

Rose and Jack“All the world’s a stage” ~ As You Like It, Act II Scene VII, by William Shakespeare, used without his permission.

It’s been a stressful couple of months for a number of reasons (long hours, stomach flu, etc.), and during this time I’ve noticed that my mind keeps circling back to the famous Doctor Who story arc in “The Empty Child” and “The Doctor Dances.”

  •   Are you my mummy?

As I daydream these two episodes get mingled with a conversation I had with a friend over the holidays.  It was one of those “tough love” kind of conversations (I was on the receiving end), which sought to knock some sense into me about the stresses in my life compared to those of others.  There is no doubt that my friend was right:  Others have it far, far worse than I.  We throw away enough food here in America to feed entire continents.  We have electricity, heat, air conditioning, and we even still have Twinkies.  And I am grateful.  I’m grateful to everyone, from farmers to HVAC mechanics, who help make us a first-world country.   So, no, I’m not living in desolation.  But even those who’re the same demographic as I am have their own burdens of stress, grief, disease, and turmoil on a daily basis.  Knowing this, however, does not comfort me.  Knowing that everyone else is going through hell just makes me wonder if I’m the victim of a gargantuan prank.  I’m not — I’m not that jaded — but it does make me wonder.

Which brings us back to

  •     Are you my mummy?

this two-part Doctor Who episode.  It’s a compelling, kitchen-sink mix of science fiction, history, humor, and horror.  We get to see a new character: The swashbuckling and handsome Jack Harkness.  We get to see Rose out of character: Freewheeling and whimsical in a delightful way that brings balance to the plot.  And we get to hear The Doctor’s name again: Not his real one, of course, but the time-worn (as it were) John Smith pseudonym once again.  And the story, like life, is a mountainous journey, with high peaks and shadowed valleys meant to

  • Are you my mmmmmmm-ummmmmmy?

scare the bejesus out of us.  But my goal is not to rehash the plot.  My goal is to say that the episode is CLUTTER!  In a good way :)

Like our lives, it is overwhelming — a city being bombed to rubble, a nano-virus on the loose, paranoia of not becoming “like them.”  Steven Moffat and his crew at the BBC took this confusion and turned it into a classic piece of entertainment.  For those of us who’ve never fought in a war or been helpless victims as bombs erupted in the sky we cannot possibly imagine the

  • Are you my mummy?

terrors of battle.  From the explosions that will blow your eardrums out, to the sights of rubble and carnage and blood, to the smells of death — the latter being the one thing that TV will never, I hope, provide us — the episode imagines destruction on a planetary scale and fright on a human scale.   But it’s all fiction.  It’s all smoke and mirrors.  It’s … all … a … play.  So, yes, for most people understanding that you’re not alone in your struggle helps to deal with an unpredictable world.   But that doesn’t help me.  What does help is story-telling, in all its forms.  Those media (books, film, TV) provide a sanctuary for my personal stress.   And they allow me to take a step back and project my life onto a stage, while I take my seat in the audience.  It helps me to know that Shakespeare was right: The world really is a stage.  It keeps me from going crazier’n a shithouse rat.  And that’s the “therapy” I need.  I don’t need tough love.  I need fantasy.

And you know what else helps, friends and neighbors?  Sneaking up on people and whispering, “Are you my mummy?” in a creepy British accent.

Years truly,

Keith

Copyright © 2013

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4 thoughts on “Clutter

    1. One of these days I’m going to write up my theories about why the show is so addictive. In a way, the show is so “silly” and yet it’s not silly at all. Make sense? Probably not :)

  1. Fantasy really is a great refuge from and reliever of stress. As you can tell, for me not only do I use fantasy by making up ridiculous situations in my “PrT” world, but I also rely heavily on humour.

    “When beetles fight these battles in a bottle with their paddles 
and the bottle’s on a poodle and the poodle’s eating noodles…
…they call this a muddle puddle tweetle poodle beetle noodle 
bottle paddle battle.”

    – Also used without some dead guy’s permission (and hopefully, knowledge)

    1. Fantasy and humor both serve as distractions, and maybe that’s what I was ultimately getting at: Life is clutter, but if I can look at that clutter as I through a window then I cope better. Now, where’d I put the Windex?

      Sent from my iPhone

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