So two years ago I wrote this piece about the overall impact Doctor Who has had on my life.
I said most of what I had to say back then, but being a couple of years later, life moves on and there’s some new thoughts to add on the subject. The link to Doctor Who this time may not be as immediately obvious, but it’s just as strong.
The education in equality I got through my time in Doctor Who fandom has stayed strong. My daughter has certainly been given the same opportunities as her brother, while being allowed to grow and develop as her own person.
So before she was three years old, she’d helped me change the headlights on my car, helped me saw, nail, and screw wood together, and has been up in the roof with me. She’s no good at any of it, but she enjoys herself nevertheless.
I’ll come back to that attitude later.
She’s even more unstoppable than my son. A month or two back, while climbing along the log-pile after being warned that she could get hurt, but being allowed to do it anyway because kids should be allowed to take risks, she took a truly epic fall. It involved an accidental somersault, a falling log, and a hefty bump on the noggin.
Naturally I went to her, held her, and explained again as I have a few times in the past that sometimes doing the good stuff means risking harm. One has to accept that some things have the potential to come with a price we’d rather not pay, but it’s hard to live the life one wants, or become the person one wishes to be, without accepting the risks and inevitable damage that may sometimes occur.
After a couple of minutes, still crying a little, she disengaged my arms and climbed back up onto the woodpile at the point where she had fallen. I asked her what she was doing.
“I want to see if I can finish.”
And she continued her climb all the way to the end. There’s a reason I call her GodZoe. Like Godzilla, she’s more a force of nature than anything else.
My 5yo son is growing and changing. He loves learning for the sake of it, and testing himself, though he’s a lot more likely to give up on things than his sister. We’re teaching him it’s okay to ask for help, but you should be willing to have a good try too. He’s starting to be able to read, and the other day he counted to a thousand, because he’d never done it before. I had to keep reminding him what number he was up to, but he got there.
He still likes his hair long, and he wears dresses occasionally, which naturally leads to some confusion as people mistake him for a girl. When this happens he politely tells them he’s a boy. He’s had one or two people tell him boys don’t wear dresses, or have long hair. His reply is very matter of fact.
“Are girls allowed to have short hair?”
“Can girls wear pants?”
“Then boys can wear dresses and have long hair.”
My post-stroke health continues to improve, mostly because I know my limitations. What I mean by that is that I know there’s stuff I have trouble with, and shouldn’t do, and I regularly try to do those things anyway.
And I fail, a lot.
Knowing my limitations doesn’t means staying in my broken little box. It means that those times when I can’t function, or I try to push past the boundaries of the box and fail, that’s okay. Most failure isn’t a bad thing unless you let it be, the rest of the time it’s simply another way of learning.
Knowing my limitations means I try to choose my battles carefully. I don’t mean I go for the battles I can win – where’s the fun in that? I mean I choose the things worth fighting to achieve, no matter the odds, what value others assign to the goal, or how likely I am to fail.
It’s the trying that matters, not the success.
Accepting my failure to cope or succeed is only a problem if I let the lack of success define me and what I attempt to do. As long as I keep trying to do the things that add to my life or the lives of others, that’s what’s important. If I’m never be able to sing, or dance, or run, or write, or paint, or build, or do any one of a hundred other things as well as I’d like, so long as I want to do them, as long as I don’t hurt others, I should keep going.
Some folks find me confronting. I’m not entirely safe. I’ll get naked to dance in the outback or pose with a Dalek. If I like people I don’t hold anything back in my love and enthusiasm for them, even if I’ve known them five minutes. Male or female, I want to hug them, to let them see themselves through my eyes for a change so they can see how beautiful and amazing they can be. I want to stretch them, show them the huge gulf between who they define themselves to be, and who they could be. You don’t do that by being safe and comfortable. I want them to know their limitations so they can start kicking at them.
People are awesome.
Oh, there are always some individuals who aren’t, but the vast majority want to be better than they are. They want to learn and grow. Most only need someone to believe in them. That can be me, you, or some random person they meet for two minutes at the bus stop.
We aren’t born afraid to try. We don’t start out with a fear of failure. As children we learn through success and failure. And tears, and frustration, and joy, and because others encourage us. We only learn to be afraid of what people think later, just as we learn to be afraid of how we perceive ourselves, or how others may perceive us.
Find the people who believe in you, and use that belief to fight for the things you want, for yourself and others. Embrace the risks knowing full-well you are going to fail some of the time, but that that doesn’t matter because at least you’ll fail doing something that matters to you.
Life isn’t about reaching the destinations you’ve got your heart set on, it’s about how you live during the scary and fun-filled adventure on the way. Embrace the fear, accept the detours, and just go with it.
We can all be somebody’s Doctor, just as we can all be somebody’s companion. Both roles are equally important in finding out who we really are, and becoming who we have the potential to be.
Remember how to be that curious, delighted, and unafraid child once more. Embrace it, start running, and don’t ever stop.
Cheers, my freaky darlings!