31 October 2013

The Tenth Doctor

David Tennant's incarnation of The Doctor is particularly light-hearted... at least on the surface. The Tenth Doctor's persona seems to have a tendency to babble, mixing apparent nonsense with nuggets of vital information. He develops closer ties than ever with his companions, their friends and family than he ever did in any of his previous versions.

However, beneath the surface this version of the Time Lord reveals intense emotions in play. One of this Doctor's recurring lines is the fact that he is "so sorry" for what has occurred - or what is going to occur. The shows begins to explore the loneliness of the character, with Time Lord longevity described as a curse - while his human companions all someday leave him and eventually die, he continues on.

The Tenth Doctor wears a four-buttoned suit, a shirt and a tie, a light brown overcoat (reportedly given to him by Janis Joplin) and trainers. He also dons a pair of glasses from time to time - and even a pair of red-blue 3D glasses! The character speaks with an Estuary English accent - unlike Tennant whose natural accent is Scottish English...

Taking over from Ecclestone in 2005, Tennant would appear in 36 stories (47 episodes) until handing over to Matt Smith in early 2010.

29 October 2013

Not Funny

"What's wrong with you? Can't you see that we are just having a laugh with you?"
OK, I think I've got it now. If I don't quite see the joke, now it's my problem. It is my fault. I've had a "sense of humour" failure.
Is that right? Is that normal?
Because, apparently, I'm not on my own. Some of us can't see the joke about:
  • Ridiculing ethnic minorities by using derogatory terms for them, 'tarring' them all with the same brush.
  • Pigeonholing people as 'tramps' or 'scroungers' or some such comment - without getting to know them, trying to understand even a little about their circumstances.
  • Manipulating the truth, 'spinning' a story, just so you can put yourself in a better light.
  • Deriding someone's activities at the weekend, just because they've made a different choice as to how to spend their free time.
I don't find it funny. Not any more. Perhaps that's why I need to speak out.
Sense of humour failure?
Perhaps I've haven't even had a sense of humour to start with. Not in this context.
Yeah, that's probably it.

22 October 2013

A Few More Definitions of Joy

"Joy is to fun what the deep sea is to a puddle. It's a feeling inside that can hardly be contained." - Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

"You ought to live your life with such freedom and joy that uptight Christians will doubt your salvation." - Steve Brown, A Scandalous Freedom

"I define joy as a sustained sense of well-being and internal peace - a connection to what matters." - Oprah Winfrey

"Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation." - Rick Warren

21 October 2013

Loud Noises!

A while ago now, I had become aware that there were a number of people who could be found sitting on their own in the loudest pubs. Now, I doubted at the time if this was for the company; you couldn't talk even if you wanted to, the din was just overwhelming. They weren't socialising, could it be just for the music? Or was it because they wanted the cacophony to drown out their own thoughts - bad memories, overwhelming feelings, perhaps their own conscience?

I tried an experiment the other day. In an effort to gain insight into a little of this, I took out my personal headphones (which I must admit I use a lot of the time as a social defence), unplugged the MP3 player and tried just to listen to - nothing in particular. Trying to understand why real life would need drowning out...

I experienced:
  • The train carriage to work, where conversation was kept to a minimum. Some read books, others listened to music, caught 40 winks, typed on a laptop, tweeted. In a carriage of 150 or so, only two people talked. I wasn't one of them.
  • The city streets, the hustle and bustle, where you make a beeline for your office, avoiding the 'chuggers' and free newspaper distributors. Hardly a problem. Probably well advisable to keep the headphones out if you are crossing the road...
  • The workplace, where small talk about last night's football mixes with arguments over office politics and 'storms in teacups'. Ugh - can I put the headphones in again please? I promise to take them out if the phone rings...
  • The coffee shop at lunchtime - here at last was a place of calm where you can relax and be yourself for a while. Not the person you 'need to be to get through the day'. Here was the place that I found people chatting. Yay! Although, even here I found the coffee shops were still a little noisy due to piped music. At least the refreshments were better than the office. Note: I understand that others preferred the pub down the road. That's fine, other places of refreshment are available...
What did I get out of the experience? A profound insight into the way that some of us have kind of lost the art of conversation. We have been blessed with a plethora of gadgets that assist us in communicating with friends on the other side of the country, even the world - but we struggle with talking to our neighbours, even our family members in the same room.... We have become adept in shutting others out, controlling our lives by avoiding unnecessary social contact. Yes, even me - with my 'headphone' trick.

As a society, we have exchanging the quiet chat with mates for solitary time with a soundtrack of 'loud noises'. Are we scared of letting others in? In letting real life in? In letting God in? 

I've taking this on board as a bit of a challenge. Not for me to continue to 'shut the world out', but for me to come up with a way to help others to come back out into the world.

Picture: Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) from "Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy". You'll get the reference if you've seen the film...

11 October 2013

Finding My Purpose

"Ah … ! What’s happening?
Er, excuse me, who am I?
Why am I here? What’s my purpose in life?
What do I mean by who am I?"

- the thoughts of the 'innocent sperm whale' from The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams.

I'm coming to the end of the book 'The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?' by Rick Warren - and have come up to the part where it asks you to define your purpose in life, to write it down to ensure you can retain your focus. Thinking about what to write has been at the back of my mind for a couple of days now - although it seems to be mixed up with a few other things - particularly the quotation about the whale from the Guide (my mind can be a strange and chaotic mixture of wisdom, stray thoughts and ephemera)...

In an effort to pin things down a little, I've been surfing the net to obtain additional background information on 'purpose'. Here's a few quotations that I'm mulling over today...

"The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well." ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better. " ― Robert F. Kennedy

"Remember that our Heavenly Father knows us perfectly and knows what's best for us .... Surely, His knowledge is greater than ours. We just have to have faith in Him. If we don't, well, that doesn't change what happened, it just makes us more miserable because we refuse to trust His will. Our Heavenly Father wants us to have joy. And happiness. But we need to look for those opportunities that give us joy. If we don't, what would be the purpose for existing?" ― Jeri Gilchrist

There's also something in the back of my mind which seems to be relevant to today's blog entry. Somehow. These are words from a worship song called 'The Power of Your Love' (by Hillsong). The words simply won't go away today. It's linked to this topic. The lyrics say:

"Hold me close
Let Your love surround me
Bring me near
Draw me to Your side.
And as I wait
I'll rise up like the eagle
And I will soar with You
Your Spirit leads me on
In the power of Your love

There's something inside me, so vital, so desperate to be heard, nagging away, insistent that I get ready to spread my wings; encouraging me to fly. Not just to plummet helplessly, like our friend the whale. To soar, unfettered, on the currents of air. This persistent prompting encourages me not to give up, to keep on trying. To that end, here's a smattering of quotations about flying - including another quote from Douglas Adams!

"If you hang out with chickens, you're going to cluck and if you hang out with eagles, you're going to fly." ― Steve Maraboli

"Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return." - Leonardo da Vinci

"There is an art, it says, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. … Clearly, it is this second part, the missing, which presents the difficulties." - Douglas Adams