April 2014 has been a bad month in House With One F. Jobs have been lost, loved ones have entered hospitals, and bizarre vehicular failures have been the norm. Amidst all of that misery, I received at my house out of nowhere the card you see above written in Old High Gallifreyan. The return address was a set of galactic coordinates, it contained a $150 Visa gift card, and it was simply signed "The Doctor".
That card allowed me to buy groceries for the rest of the week, and had just enough left over for an afternoon at Chuck E. Cheese with my daughter. It was, in every sense of the word, a godsend. I showed the card to my daughter, who at four years old is starting to be able to read, and of course she recognized the name of her favorite television hero. Shocked, she asked me, "The Doctor is REAL?"
Luckily for me my phone rang right at that moment, and by the time I was finished talking she was once again engrossed in Jake and the Never Land Pirates. I didn't have an answer to her question off the top of my head when she asked, but after some thought I do. I'm leaving it here for her to read later when she's a bit older.
Katy, at some point someone will tell you The Doctor isn't real because he's just a story. That's the problem with the modern world. They've forgotten the true importance of stories. In the beginning there was not The Word, but The Story, a tale men told themselves to explain the miraculous and the terrible things they witnessed around them that they could not comprehend. Those stories became the first gods, and as their stories grew they inspired men and women to do great things to honor their gods. Stories are the only true religion because only a story can transcend reality. Whether true or untrue, every story is real because the effect it has on the person who hears it is real.
Yes, Katy, The Doctor is real. He exists because bravery and kindness and mercy and capricious meddling exist, and without such things what on Earth would the universe be like? The stars would just be flaming balls of gas instead of beacons to wonderful adventures, and we would all be slaves to the long odds of living and inarguable fate. If there were no Doctor, there would be no one inspired by The Doctor to look at the crying children of the world and regardless of his or her own safety or guarantee of success say, "No more". Perhaps other stories would take his place, but the fact that they have not tells me that they cannot. There is only one Doctor, and a world that can conceive of a Doctor is a world that can conceive of the wonders he performs and acknowledges their possibility.
You can't define the reality of someone like The Doctor any more than you can define the reality of a dream or a vision. All the powers of science and religion and philosophy and no one has ever been able to show us a single atom of love or courage despite the reality of such things. Neither you or I have ever seen The Doctor, but what does that prove? He's everywhere. He's anywhen. Right now he's billions of miles away. Right now he's hundreds of year ago. Right now he's next door. He's bigger on the inside and he is always running. The universe is vast and we are very, very small. There simply isn't time for us to know the reality behind every inexplicable kindness and salvation, just that something intervened, and then was gone. Off on another adventure.
It's a time of storykillers, now, instead of storytellers. I look around and see people intent on using the wonders of science to destroy the power of gods and heroes by sneering at the minor, disprovable details. Those that do believe respond by desperately clinging to the literal Word instead of The Tale. In both cases they wage a war of inconsequentials, forgetting that time and date and accuracy are not the point. The point of a story is to make men dream of a world that is not, but that could be. Without that dream, we are nothing. Nothing at all.
Real? The Doctor is real. Somewhere out there a man is running to stop a bomb though it may kill him. Somewhere else a woman is talking a man with a gun out of doing something terrible. Somewhere out there someone is showing someone else the wonders of the universe just to make them happy. And somewhere else out there someone took pity on a poor writer having a bad day and sent him and his daughter some food and an afternoon of Skee Ball.
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In at least one of those cases, it was done in the name of The Doctor. What could possibly be more real than that? I'll let Matt Smith make my final point.
"I'll be a story in your head, but that's okay, because we're all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh? Because it was, you know. It was the best. A daft old man who stole a magic box and ran away. Did I ever tell you that I stole it? Well, I borrowed it. I always meant to take it back. Oh, that box, Amy, you'll dream about that box. It'll never leave you. Big and little at the same time. Brand-new and ancient and the bluest blue ever. And the times we had, eh? Would had...Never had. In your dreams, they'll still be there. The Doctor and Amy Pond and the days that never came."