New Chapters, Life Calendars, and Dr. Who

As some of you might know, last month I got some big news about how I am going to be spending 2015:

In just a few days I am going to be taking this next leap in my life’s journey, moving to Paris for at least the next year to work on digital government issues for the OECD. This is an incredibly exciting opportunity and I think will prove to be quite an adventure professionally and personally.

Preparing for this kind of a transition is obviously an opportunity to pause and reflect. All the more so with it being the holidays and New Year’s Eve upon us, a time of year I have always found full of self-reflection. Last year at this time I posted about my reflections on 2013, which I described as the toughest year of my life to date. I predicted that 2014 would see me move into a new phase of life professionally and personally, which proved to be true even if not in the ways that I expected (but then again, when does life ever unfold in the ways that we expect).

2014 was very much about setting the stage for the next act. I had to make some choices at various points throughout the year to close certain doors in my life, often without knowing which ones would open up in turn. My family and I went through the difficult experience of losing my step-mother to cancer this fall. There were real moments of joy this year as well, and many reasons to celebrate victories, births, and important milestones of those in my life. More than anything, when I look back on 2014 it strikes me as a year where I learnt more about myself.

One of the exercises that I started in 2014 was creating a “life calendar”. For those who have been following this blog (or my Facebook or Twitter feeds) you may have read a bit about this project of mine. I’ve done some further refinement of my life calendar since my last post in September, and I’m happy to share with you the fruits of my labours:

Life Calendar - Beta 2

You will notice the yellow squares with numbers I’ve added throughout my timeline. Those represent major transitions in my life, or as I have come to think of them, my “Dr. Who moments” (bare with me for a moment and I will circle back to explain what that means). These are major transition points in my life which launched significantly new chapters. They were all instigated by a career change, a move to a new city, or in many cases both. They also involved having new people become a part of my life, and in many cases having to say goodbye to others. Arguably only #1 and #6 were truly transformational, with everything in-between being smaller chapters within the same narrative arc. A new number is going to be added to the calendar next week, and I am fairly confident that #8 will fall into the “truly transformational” category.

Which brings me to Dr. Who. Last year around this time thanks to the magic of Netflix I started watching the modern seasons of Dr. Who (starting from the 2005 re-boot), the British sci-fi series that has been running for over 50 years. For those who have never seen it, the central character, the Doctor as he is known, is a Time Lord that travels through time and space having frequent madcap adventures while saving the universe. While the Doctor is for practical purposes immortal (though not completely), if he is fatally injured he goes through a process of “regeneration” where he takes on a new physical appearance. Through this convenient plot device there have been 12 different actors who have played the Doctor since 1963.

Predictably, I loved Dr. Who and ended up gobbling up all 8 seasons of the modern re-boot in fairly short order. Immersing myself in it, I soon realized that beyond the sci-fi plot lines there is a deeper metaphor being explored throughout the Dr. Who series. To me, it speaks to the nature of the journey that is our lives. How the journey itself changes us and we can appear, at least to others, to become different people at different points along the way. How some people travel with us for part of the journey (the Doctor often has a travelling companion), even sometimes through multiple regenerations, but more often than we would like through choice or circumstance our travelling companions have to take different paths.

The best expression of this metaphor in the series is the final episode of David Tennant’s run as the Doctor, titled “The End of Time”. Throughout the episode he knows due to a prophecy that he will soon be needing to regenerate and struggles with moving on to this next phase of his journey:

Later in the episode, after he is critically injured and knows that he only has a little time left before he regenerates into the next Doctor, he takes some quick trips through time and space to say goodbye to the people that were closest to him through his most recent travels (the clip below captures the last couple of these goodbyes; unfortunately I can’t find one with the full scene):

The past month I have spent a lot of time saying my own goodbyes to the people that have been important to me these past few years. I’m truly excited about the journey ahead, but I would be lying if I said that there weren’t moments of pause in the realization that this really is the start of something new, and everything that means.

So as I begin this new chapter, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to blog more regularly, in part to keep my friends, family and colleagues updated on my Paris adventures. If you are interested, I’d encourage you to to sign-up for email updates from my blog through the subscription box below:

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Wishing you and your loved ones health and happiness for 2015! À la prochaine!

One thought on “New Chapters, Life Calendars, and Dr. Who

  1. Pingback: What’s Next?* | Ryan Androsoff

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