Last night, I went to the cinema with my dad and sister to see the 50th-anniversary episode of the British television show Doctor Who.
I’d only seen about a dozen episodes in total, and was going mostly for my sister, who wore her Doctor Who T-shirt and carried her sonic screwdriver and cheered at all the right times.
Even as the homages and references and plot points jumped over my head and skated every which way around me, I couldn’t help but feel the momentousness of it all.
We all have stories and characters we love. We move in close to them, pressing in as we would around a fire, hands and faces turned toward the warmth.
Yes, we can get lost in stories and escape in make-believe and find our hands and faces charred in the end.
Story can go wrong, and we can argue endlessly about whether it’s the story’s fault or your fault.
But then, then there are the times when story goes right, when story is as it’s meant to be.
Story as it’s meant to be draws us into its world … and then back out into our own worlds. In some little way or some big way or some unknown way, it connects us with what it means to be human.
We like these stories and characters because somehow, we can connect with them. He said something funny, and I laughed. That look in her eyes almost made me cry too. That story crushed me or resonated with me or reminded me of something important.
But then scripts and performances, editors and formulas, platforms and special effects, audiences and critics, it’s-not-like-the-book and it’s-barely-based-on-a-true-story, politics and hidden agendas … how easy it is to lose the magic of story.
But it’s still there, if we will only be open to it.
We all have moments wrapped in beauty, in the doing and in the thinking and in the living. And we all have moments wrapped in pain.
I drove home with my dad from that Doctor Who special without saying much of anything. Mumford & Sons filled the car and all outside was dark and same. And I was thinking of how characters and stories mean so much to every one of us, and art was alive inside me, and I felt so very full.
Moments like that, where the music and the mind come together to make something rich, even if it stays inside and unspoken, remind me of the other stories on screens and in books. Those started inside someone too, and now here they are.
Story connects us with what it means to be human. It happens when my unspoken meets your spoken, and I am changed.