No sonic screwdriver required

This week geeks all over the world celebrated together as we rejoiced in the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Who. I went to a huge gathering last night at the EMP museum in Seattle and celebrated with other people who love the show. It’s good to commune with your tribe.

I’ve learned so much from the show about living a joyful life, so I thought I’d share some of that today in honor of this milestone. This applies whether or not you watch the show yourself.

  • There is value to be found everywhere. The Doctor once said: “In 900 years of time and space I have never met anyone who wasn’t important.” I agree, and I would add that this means that you, too, are important. Never forget this.
  • Don’t give up. Just as in baseball, “it’s not over until it’s over”. There is always time to remedy the most dire situation, and there are always more than two options. You may need to think outside the box, but you can usually find a way.
  • Travel is good. Without a T.A.R.D.I.S. (the flying blue police box) you may not be able to travel through time, but you can always go new places and meet people, and you may have a chance to save the universe. Take it.
  • Bring your sense of humor. There are some essentials one should not do without. The Doctor believes you should always bring a banana to a party (and this is debatable) but you should never leave your sense of humor behind. I have defeated the darkest of foes with this strongest of powers. You’re going to want to have it around.

Here’s hoping the show continues for a long time. I’ll be watching.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
269. What shows or books have inspired you? Take a few moments to think about this question and write down some of the lessons you’ve learned. Extra credit: share a few of these lessons with others, either in the comments or with someone you know.

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To boldly go

Today is the 47th anniversary of the Star Trek universe. Like many, I grew up with the show and it’s an important cultural reference point for me. It’s also been on my mind lately because I just discovered Star Trek: Enterprise via Netflix. I don’t know how I missed this, but I am enjoying being able to watch new Trek.

We learn a lot from our parents, our faiths, and our friends but we can also learn a lot from the programming we watch and the books we read. I think it’s important to keep this in mind and it’s one of the reasons I don’t watch shows that focus on violent amoral people. I’ve learned a lot from Star Trek that I use in my day-to-day life. For example:

  • Never give up. Aliens may be attacking, a virus is about to kill everyone on board, and the plasma warp core is beyond repair. You’ve got to keep going because there is a solution and you will find it if you stay calm and work cooperatively with those around you. Sometimes you don’t make it–especially if you’re wearing a red shirt–but that is the exception and not the rule.
  • Respect other cultures. They may seem odd; they may seem rude; I may not understand them but I try to remember that they live by a different set of rules. Although I don’t often have the funds to travel, I have lived in several different regions in the United States. I grew up in New York and then moved to Minnesota where I experienced massive culture shock. The same thing happened when I moved to Seattle. I interact with many different cultures here that frustrate me: skateboard kids, druggies, and aggressive homeless to name a few. I try to remember that their needs and culture are different than mine. It helps.
  • Risks are a part of life. If you don’t boldly go, you’ll miss out on a lot of new experiences and contacts. I’m not about to try extreme sports or jump out of a plane but I do throw myself at the universe with joyful abandon. I moved to Seattle without knowing anyone here and I committed before even visiting because I couldn’t afford a trip first. It’s sometimes rocky, but I have met many people I now consider my family. I’ve learned a lot from my adventures.

I hope the Star Trek franchise keeps going strong so that others can benefit from the many positive messages that it has to offer. Besides, I love it, and joy is as good a justification as any. Thank you, Gene Roddenberry and the many people who have made the series happen. May it live long and prosper.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
258. What are you watching and reading? Is it contributing positively to your life? Consider doing a little decluttering if it’s not. If you are a fan of Trek, what has it contributed to your life? Feel free to share in the comments. I’d love to hear what you have to say.

No Sopranos for me

I’ve seen and read several very good things lately, but all the same, I didn’t like them. The movie Nashville was an intricate portrait of the country music capital in the 1970s, with some very poignant segments that will stick in my memory. The Slaves of Solitude was likewise well-written, a study of the insular madness that can occur amongst a small group of people forced to endure each other’s company. I didn’t enjoy either work as a whole, though, because they painted a dystopian view of the world that I do not subscribe to.

It’s easy enough to see trouble around you if you look. The headlines are not always positive, and suffering comes to us all at one time or another. I am not blind to these things, but I hold a deep-seated belief that the world is a good place. Yes, there’s violence, poverty, disease. Beyond working towards the end of such ills, I see no point on focusing on them, particularly when I am looking to be entertained.

I don’t see violent films for that reason. I’ve heard raves about classic cinema pieces such as Goodfellas and The Godfather, but I don’t plan to watch those films. I don’t want scenes of cruelty simmering in my head, ready to pop up when I least expect them. I occasionally have nightmares about horror movies I saw as a child. I don’t want to add any more fuel to the fire and, besides, I’ve decided to decorate my inner landscape in a bright and cheerful way. That way, when the inevitable lows hit, they will be small rough spots in a sunny atmosphere.

My friends sometimes tease me about this attitude, because they know that I adore mystery novels. It’s true, but I don’t like the violent ones. I find most mysteries uplifting, because the protagonist is addressing the problems that are out there. Crimes are solved, difficulties are put to rest. It would be great if the rest of the world ran that smoothly. In the meantime, I’m going to look on the bright side of life. After all, it’s a lot prettier.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

154. Examine your intake of novels, films, and television. How do these influences affect your mood? Do you need to make some changes?

The joyful truth

Today I’m going to tell you something shocking. Are your ready for it? I have no TV. That’s right, I have no television. I don’t think this is any big deal, and it’s a choice I made for myself. I didn’t want to have one. I have a portable DVD player to watch rented movies on, and that’s all I need.

People get upset when I tell them this. They offer me extra televisions they have around the house. They tell me that they don’t know how I am surviving this trauma. Their eyes are full of pity. I think it’s funny. I moved into an apartment building a while back and was getting tons of cable ads, so I called the cable company and asked them to stop sending them, since I don’t have a television. One day I got a heavy-handed knock on my door. It was the cable company. They explained that they were in the neighborhood, and would be happy to install my cable. When I explained that I did not own a television, they told me about the sales down at the local department store. I told them, politely, to go home.

I love my life without the big electronic picture box. I don’t miss the programs, and I don’t feel left out when everyone is chatting about the latest episode of whatever is popular. There are a few shows I’ve started to watch, like Six Feet Under, but those are an occasional treat on DVD. When I watch TV now, it’s special. If I want to watch a baseball game I go out to a bar and watch with the other fans. It’s more fun that way, and I have no big black cube to dust. I don’t see the downside.

Living without a television has freed up a lot of time in my life. I no longer get sucked into marathons of The West Wing or Monk. I don’t watch the nightly news, and I find that very relaxing. I can check into National Public Radio or Newsweek when I want to catch up on the world, but I find my life to be better without the daily briefing on the events. I elect politicians to keep current with that information. It’s so much nicer to let them do their jobs. Presumably they have televisions. I’m glad that I don’t have to.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

80. Turn the TV off for a day, or a week. How was it?