You have probably seen Doctor Strange by now, the latest offering from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
If you have not seen it, watch now and be amazed with all those visual, tantalizing illusions. And learn how to know that it is not always about you.
That is the lesson I am learning over the years, and more so lately.
Neurosurgeon Stephen Strange (played in the movie by Benedict Cumberbatch) had a tragic car accident, losing his ability to use his hands, ergo his ability to perform surgeries. Using all his resources, he tried to find ways for cure, but failed. Then he learned about the paraplegic Jonathan Pangborn who was able to walk again. From him, Strange learn about Kamar-Taj, and there, he met the master of the mystic arts Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who in turn, introduced him to The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton).
There, Doctor Strange begged The Ancient One to teach him what she showed him: the he astral plane and other dimensions such as the Mirror Dimension, among other mystical wonders. The Celtic mystic refused at first to teach him because of his arrogance, but eventually took him under her wing.
The movie, on top of the visual effects, has a lot to teach about humility, learning, and perseverance.
For one, Mordo offered Doctor Strange an unsolicited advice: "Forget everything that you think you know." The Ancient One also told the arrogant doctor, "You think you know how the world works. You think this material universe is all there is. What if I told you the reality you know is one of many?"
And as he insisted to be taught, "How do I get from here to there?" The Ancient One asked him,
"How did you become a doctor?" And Doctor Strange himself answered his own question: "Study and practice. Years of it."
Such challenge, when met, will allow us to open ourselves to open to more possibilities, something Doctor Strange did not believe at first.
The Ancient One told Doctor Strange, "You're a man looking at the world through a keyhole. You've spent your whole life trying to widen that keyhole. To see more. To know more. And now on hearing that it can be widened, in ways you can't imagine, you reject the possibility."
And Doctor Strange haughtily replied, "No, I reject it because I do not believe in fairy tales about chakras or energy or the power of belief. There is no such thing as spirit! We are made of matter and nothing more. We're just another tiny, momentary speck in an indifferent universe."
And so the neurosurgeon had to eat his humble pie, start anew, as he opened himself up to more possibilities.
Time is a recurring theme here in this movie --- from the watch Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) gave to Doctor Strange with the inscription, "Time will tell how much I love you," to The Ancient One telling him that we do not get to choose our time: "Death is what gives life meaning. To know your days are numbered and your time is short. You'd think after all this time I'd be ready. But look at me. Stretching one moment out into a thousand ... just so that I can watch the snow."
And wasting time obsessing about things we have no control of, or dwelling on the past that is already behind us, is no good use of the short time we have on this Earth.
We can argue, like Doctor Strange did, "This doesn't make sense," "I'm not ready." To which The Ancient One taught him throughout his journey that "Not everything [has to make sense]. Not everything has to, and that:
"Arrogance and fear still keep you from learning the simplest and most significant lesson of all: It's not about you."That is true. We are so consumed with thinking we are the victim but what we are forgetting is that it is not all about us at all times.
That if we want the situation to change, we must do our part and be a player or a team player.
Enough of pity party. We have a choice to do better and be better. "We never lose our demons, we only learn to live above them," The Ancient One wisely said.
And more than teaching him mysticism, The Ancient One taught Doctor Strange life's lessons that we can all relate to.
It is not all about us. There is so much unlearning we have to do to open ourselves to possibilities, while staying humble in the process.
Movie quotes from IMDb