In BBC’s “Doctor Who,” the doctor is capable of regenerating to create a new body when physically injured or emotionally spent beyond regular repair. This process is tied to his nature as a time-lord, occurring through an increasing display of light bursting forth from within his person, as if multiple suns had burst and couldn’t wait to shine forth. The event is laden with strong emotion and frequently associated with immense change beyond the next overt fact of a new actor in the role. It is a profound singular point of compressed meaning in the story-arc of a character possessing the capacity to exhibit new qualities of personality through resurrection.
Stories of loss are a constant companion to living, at times threatening to overwhelm even the most stalwart of forward-thinking individuals. The senselessness of violence, the immensity of a personal absence, the sheer enormity of events beyond our immediate understanding reminds us of the impermanence of all that we hold close. With technology the sense of loss can be both mitigated and enlarged, shared by millions even as local events take on national significance. Each event gets placed in a larger narrative, the personal becoming social, the social becoming cultural. The echoes of the fallen do not stop at the borders of a town or city, but are heard by every person plugged into the matrix of interconnected media. Being thus connected we each share in the grief and loss, our minds empathically resonating with the loss of our own lives. Regardless of the level of personal contact, the immediate emotional response occurs with the inviolable impact of a runaway train . Even after twenty years I can remember the moment I found out my grandmother had died. The experience lingers and associated memories fuel the loss often attempted to move past, though continuing to live in.
Technology only expands the potential for what already lies within us. Loss and grief are shared experiences, relational points of contact between the individual narratives guiding our lives and the people we are enmeshed with. The strength of those emotional experiences emerges from the quality of the associated relationship. Human imagination is such that not knowing someone very well or even at all does not then equate to a particular depth of feeling. We have but to connect the personal narrative of our lives to the grief felt by others to expand the empathy that can exult and lament. This is why to speak of moving on from a loss is both utterly unhelpful when told from another person and requiring the individual to be in a particular place to do so. In loss, as with other powerful emotional experiences, we find we are not so much steering our lives as being caught in the flow of energy and information generated by the interactions we have with countless others.
This is to live fully, the constant expansion of our awareness through the power of our imagination fueled by our empathic connections with others. We do this by continually engaging in social activities, opening ourselves up to the inevitable change that others inspire in our lives. We do this by active, intentional, conscious deliberation, even as this is only the tip of the iceberg of our mental lives. Every interaction we have with others is an inter-subjective experience, changing every person involved through the calibration of our mental worlds, conscious and unconscious. Countless variables embodied within each of us are rising and falling in the sea of our potential being.
The life of a time-lord, like all of us, is measured by the degree of change manifesting in our shared reality. While regeneration can be seen as required due to injury we can look at it also as being the result of being filled. I’ve heard tears described this way, the physical manifestation of an emotional overflow, regardless of whether caused by suffering or joy. Like a balloon filled beyond capacity, the stuff of life explodes in every direction remaking us and all it touches.
Our lives and the final act of our passing, like that of a time-lord, are explosions of regenerative energy. We cannot choose whether to affect others, though the nature of that affect is ours to influence. We should be so lucky to inspire the passion and love of so many.
© David Teachout
Featured Image by “elreviae“