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From Doctor Who to Bruno Bettelheim

standard September 13, 2012 Leave a response

You know how your children always go back to reading the same books over and over again? How they love to see the same tv shows even though they’ve already seen each episode a million times and can recite the plot to each and every one?

Well, there’s a reason for that.

Bruno Bettelheim, renowned child psychologist (sadly better known for his devastatingly erroneous work on children with autism, but brilliant nonetheless) did amazing work on the subject of fairy tales and how children, without being aware that they are doing so, see something in certain stories that address deep rooted issues they need to process. They read the story ad-nauseum until the issue has been processed and then they move on.

I’ve been wondering this week about what has caused me to become so utterly obsessed with Doctor Who (Why yes, this is another post about Doctor Who. I am a geek. Deal with it.) and I think I’ve finally figured it out. It’s very Bettelheim-ian in nature.

Not to oversimplify a brilliantly complex and entertaining show that has been running for almost 50 years, but, in short, Doctor Who is the story of a man, a Time Lord, who is essentially, more or less, immortal. (A million Whovian hearts just stopped over the gross over simplification of the actual situation. My sincere appologies.) He travels through space and time and usually takes along a human companion or two.

Here’s the important part. Human companions. Time Lord who doesn’t die or age. The two aren’t exactly a recipe for long lasting relationships. Add to that the fact that he’s the only Time Lord left, that every other one is gone and basically you have the makings for a lot of sad, painful goodbyes.

He’s a lonely traveler who wanders around, making friends, dropping them off, saying goodbye, and moving on. He’s currently around 913 years old. That’s a lot of friends who’ve come and gone.

OK. Are you seeing where I’m going here? Or do I need to draw a clearer picture?

Fine. Let me get my markers.

The Doctor keeps saying goodbye to friends. I keep saying goodbye to friends… Are we seeing the parallel yet? Are we seeing the Bettelheim-ian draw here?

I have, over the course of the last few weeks, watched almost 6 seasons of Doctor Who episodes. I have cried over and over again as he has to say goodbye and move on. I have struggled to appreciate the new companions, have fought to not get attached, because, much like the Doctor, I knew they were going to be short-lived.

And yet, time and time again, I’ve been unable to resist.

I think I kept watching because there was that last layer of turmoil that I needed to process.

The Doctor, he welcomes people into his life, he loves them, he embraces everything about them, then he lets them go and gets on with his life. He finds other companions, he finds other friends. Except for a few momentous times he doesn’t really mope or lament. He moves on.

I, on the other hand, have been feeling guilty about moving on with my life, about going out with other friends, about going to my Mother’s Group, about being happy. That guilt has been keeping me trapped.

I know that Doctor Who is nothing more than a great scifi fairy tale, but I’m rather grateful that it’s helping me process this latest loss of mine and helping me see that it’s ok to go on living my life without the friends who have moved away and that it’s ok to do so with a smile and my old bounce in my step.

9 Life Lessons from Doctor Who

standard September 7, 2012 11 responses

I do this thing when I’m in a state of flux, when my life is changing or when something big has happened in it, where I get somewhat, tiny bit, ok a lot, addicted to a tv show and spend inordinate amounts of time watching it.

It doesn’t impede my ability to function; I usually watch the show while doing other things, but for a while, the show is where I let myself get lost, forgetting all the other things that are causing me angst. Like, you know, facing the changes in my life.

The first show I lost myself in was Charmed. I know every episode backwards and forwards. I watched it a lot the year I stopped working for someone and started freelancing. The next show I watched religiously was Las Vegas. Equally engrossing and satisfying in completely different ways.

This year, well, this month, the show that has taken over my brain is Doctor Who. The “new” seasons to be precise. Two weeks ago Amazon released their Instant Video app for the iPad and, when I saw that Doctor Who was one of the shows my Prime membership allowed me to watch for free, I decided to see what all the Pinterest hubbub was about.

Didn’t take long for me to be hooked.

To be clear. I am a geek. A proud one at that. And I love the geekiness of the show. But mostly I love the characters. I can’t remember another TV show, ever, that made me feel so strongly, or cry so hard, for its people.

And now I have an Utterly Geeky Pinterest board. Though really it could just be called Utterly Whovy, because who am I kidding really?

I’m almost done watching the series and almost over my thing. I feel ready to face my world again and I have to say, it’s partly because of some things that Doctor Who has taught me.

1) The world is more than you know.
It’s so easy to get caught up in your day to day grind and to forget how many amazing things the world has to offer. Some of it is scary and ugly, but for the most part it’s beautiful and awe inspiring.

2) You never outgrow fairy tales
And they never stop helping you learn and grow, no matter what form they might take.

3) The moral high-ground is always worth taking
It’s tempting to come down to other people’s levels and play their sneaky, evil games. In the end though, it’s always more satisfying to win while staying true to your ethics.

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Image by adweb.us 

4) Sometimes people leave… because that’s the way the story has to go.
People leave. It’s a fact of life. It doesn’t mean the story is over. It just means that the story is changing.

5) You always need a friend
It’s tempting to mourn the friends who are gone and close yourself off to everyone else. But you can’t, you have to keep opening yourself to future pain. The need for companionship is just that much stronger than the fear of losing a friend.

Image from pelfusion.com

Image from pelfusion.com

6) Be unapologetically proud of who you are and what you do
There’s only one you. Only you can do what you do. Be proud of yourself and give yourself praise when it’s deserved.

7) Be open to change. See the good in all things. It makes for a better life.
Greet challenges and changes as big fat adventures that need to be faced with gleeful smiles. The situation won’t change, but your attitude affects how you experience it all.

8) Some things don’t need to be said, but that’s no excuse not to say them
Your friends know you love them. Your kids know you’ll be there when you need them. Your husband knows he’s more than just that guy who shares your bed. These things don’t need to be said. And yet? Saying them is worth all the gold in the world and just because they don’t need to be said doesn’t mean you shouldn’t say them, just in case one day you realize it’s too late to say it.

9) The only constant is change
I fight it all the time. I crave normalcy. And yet, I should remember that the only constant is change. It’s always the same. Just when you get comfortable something is going to change. Change is good. It brings excitement and a renewed sense of purpose. Funny it took a TV show to remind me of that.

It’s been said that there’s a Doctor Who quote for everything. And I haven’t even finished watching the series. I’m sure I’ll be learning more lessons along the way. These, however, are the ones that are helping me out of my funk, and for that, I’m very grateful.

Allonzy! The world awaits!


Lost in code

standard January 5, 2011 2 responses

I had such plans for the blog post I was going to write tonight.

Deep. Insightful. Moving.

I have it in note form in my notebook. All I had to do was type it up and post it. Then I had a couple emails to send and I was going to be done for the night.

Instead I decided to tinker with the html code for my blog. So I could embed that nifty little Facebook Like widget you see down there at the bottom of this post. Way down there. Because there’s something wonky with the code and I can’t figure out how to get the weird spacing fixed.

Not that I didn’t try. I did. Which is why it’s now bedtime – I’m trying, I’m really, really trying to go to bed earlier because that 6am wake-up call is brutal – and I still have not opened my notebook, looked at the post, or polished it up to the point where it would bring you to tears.

Yeah. I got lost in code.

I have officially out-geeked even myself. My high-school self has just seen into the future and is shuddering.

I just think it’s pretty cool.

Which I guess is out-geeking even the geek above there.

Seriously. Bed time. Right?

Do me a favor. Like the post. Or the one below if you think this one is as ridiculous as I think it might be. Just humor me, I just wasted an entire evening on this.

My mom, she is weird. Also, it is cold in Chicago.

A friend just sent me better code. For the widget. But I am strong. And my bed is calling. So I shall tinker more tomorrow. That’s how dedicated I am to my new bedtime. Aren’t you proud?

Getting my geek on

standard January 4, 2010 5 responses

On my suitcase I have a luggage tag that reads “Everyone loves a Geeky Girl.” I got it from someone at BlogHer this summer and it makes me smile, because while I’ve always been a geek to a certain extent, it’s only now that it’s somewhat becoming cool to be a geek.*

I’m loving it.

Yesterday I proved my geek to M by going on Facebook to find a sitter so that we could go see Avatar again. Yes again. It’s that good. And shh. I’m a geek. That’s what this whole post is about.

The traditional calling around to all the usual suspects had failed us and we were a tad desperate to get a sitter, so I jumped on Facebook and sent out the following message:  

Any of my fave sitters who might still be in town want to make a couple bucks before heading back to school? We want to go see Avatar (again…) tonight! Lemme know!

Twenty minutes later we had a sitter lined up. Ironically it was one of the girls we had called on the phone. She checked her Facebook before her voicemails.

So there you go, to go see a geeky** movie you have to use a geeky technique to score childcare. The fact that we completely failed at getting tickets to what turned out to be a sold out show does not negate the total and utter geeky win for the afternoon. Even though we could have used the Internet to buy said tickets, thus turning the evening into a trifecta of geekiness. What can I say, you just can’t win them all.

*My brother-in-law contends that only geeks believe that this is true, or at the very least that this is only true in the San Francisco Bay Area, but really, what does he know?
**We saw Avatar before it became the hot movie of the year to see. When it was still geeky and not cool. And for the record I also saw Titanic before it became the cheese icon of the century.