Posted by: Jack Hope | Monday September 3, 2012

The Sonic Screwdriver

The Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and his Sonic Screwdriver

“‘Who looks at a screwdriver and thinks, ‘Ooo, this could be a little more sonic?”
“What, you’ve never been bored? Never had a long night? Never had a lot of cabinets to put up?”
Captain Jack Harkness to the Doctor
‘The Doctor Dances’ Episode 10, Series 1 of Doctor Who (2005)

If you’ve never heard about Doctor Who, the television show that is a long running cultural phenomenon in the United Kingdom, your missing out. I don’t watch a lot of television anymore. I actively try to avoid it. Too many of us already spend far too many hours staring at glowing monitors and television is even worse, given how passive an activity it is.

But I definitely make time for Doctor Who.

I’m a late joining fan , having only started watching with the show’s second run that started in 2005. However, as a science fiction fan I had been peripherally aware of Doctor Who for a long time prior, and knew the basic concepts. What I didn’t know was just how clever it actually was and why it has experienced the success it has had. I still haven’t seen most of the first run (28 years of shows, who has the time???) but I have been an avid fan right from the start of this second run.

One episode that they did a few years back was about Vincent van Gogh (the titular character, the Doctor is a time traveling alien by the way) and that talked about van Gogh’s own mental illness struggles in a surprisingly honest way for what is still, at its heart, a family oriented science fantasy show. I was going through some of the worst of my own experiences when the episode called ‘Vincent and the Doctor’ aired and it was a small light in a dark place.

Given that the seventh series of the new program premiered this past weekend, it seems a good time to make a confession related to Doctor Who.

I carry a sonic screwdriver with me, everywhere that I go.

Not a real one, unfortunately, but rather one of the toy replicas. I actually have a couple of different ones and I generally carry the one which suits my mood.

Now, the non-fans who are reading this are wondering what they heck I am going on about. A sonic what? Wikipedia has a fairly comprehensive article that you can find here: Sonic Screwdriver. But for the purposes of understanding what I am talking about, a sonic screwdriver is a fictional tool carried by the Doctor that is used to solve insoluble dilemmas.  It’s a magic wand writ for the technological age and science fiction.

And this is what I carry with me everywhere, won’t even leave the house without. So, I’m sure some of you are thinking that my crazy makes a little more sense.

But I haven’t taken leave of my senses. At least not anymore than I already have. I know it’s just a toy that I’m carrying in my pocket with me. I know that I can’t use it to pick locks, or hack bank machines, or fix a piece of alien technology. I know that a TARDIS isn’t going to land on my front lawn anytime in the near future and take me away on adventures through time and space.

So why then is it so important to me that I have one with me? Call it a personal talisman. It’s a symbol that resonates with me, particularly because it represents that every problem has a solution, you just have to find it. I need that kind of optimism, that ability to believe that there is a path forward, it just has to be found.

While it may be silly, Doctor Who and the Sonic Screwdriver, embodies a boldness of spirit and adventure, that I’m going to need even more as I go into the next stage of my recovery.

So I’ll happily keep carrying my replica Sonic Screwdriver with me wherever I go, and maybe I will get lucky and an alien with a British accent will land on my front step to take me off on adventures through time and space.

Happy Labour Day!

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