When I first rejoined the Doctor Who fandom a few years back, I found myself shocked that the Doctor would actually leave the TARDIS.
You know, he’d arrive on some alien planet that was inherently dangerous, or arrive at a time in earth’s history or future, where survival wasn’t a given, and he’d just leap out and insert himself into the story.
And for the first few seasons of what they call New Who (from Doctor 9 onwards), I’d sit there and think about how much safer staying in the TARDIS would be.
Of course we wouldn’t have stories either.
Each week would be about watching the Doctor play cards and drink tea and just get older. I realised that a bit into it and found myself thinking about fear in my own life.
I found Supernatural through Netflix back in 2015. It was July, which seems to be a pivotal month for change for me lately. And I remember watching the pilot episode, clutching my daughter tight in fear, and wondering how the guys had the actual audacity to break all the rules and insert themselves into people’s lives and problems.
My fear lay less in the ghosts (which, ok were terrifying) and more in waiting for the guys to get busted when they tried to pass themselves off as officers, or an estranged family member or whatever. Stepping out of line and being bold.
Supernatural has a documented effect on many of its viewers called The Supernatural Effect. Where viewers actually change their lives after viewing the show.
It’s tied into studies that have labelled it “experience-taking” and basically it’s where viewers or readers transform how they view the world, themselves and other social groups.
The nerd in me loves the fact that this has been studied. Anecdotally, I can fully agree that this effect exists because it changed my life so profoundly in the last 3 years that I don’t recognize it at all.
See, up until I was 43 or so, I let fear be the driver in my life.
When I had an opportunity to show my art, I turned all of them down but one because of my fear of rejection.
When I had an opportunity to grab a new job and leave my business, I turned it down because I was afraid I wasn’t good enough.
When I had an opportunity to travel, I turned it down because it was too dangerous.
And when the bigger opportunities started disappearing, as they do when you reject them, the smaller ones got my attention.
Want to hang out with friends? Too scary. I’d have to leave the house.
Want to road trip locally? Nope. I could get lost. Too scary.
And so on until the one year, 14 months I think, that I spent in virtual isolation, not even going to the grocery store or connecting with friends. At the time I wore it like a badge of honour. See? I don’t need friends to exist, I’m a mother fucking island!
Fear is also a huge driver of denial.
When I became aware of how fear was making my world so damn small, thanks to watching these shows, I knew it was time to take back the driver’s seat.
The driver not only picks the music, the driver picks the direction and destination and I suddenly realised I was making choices based on safety and that safety was a lie.
Safety was drinking tea in the TARDIS, never existing in anyone else’s stories.
Safety was living by the rules I had no say in, and choosing to fade away, resigned to a life less lived, instead of rejecting them completely.
Safety was a sign that I should do the exact opposite.
This week I am moving into my new house, releasing a children’s book with a client, starting a part time job as an art teacher, returning to my classical animation roots and, becoming a single parent.
Not a single one of those things is safe.
But what I do know is fear had no say in any of this stuff because fear is sitting shotgun and shotgun shuts his cake hole.