“All this time you spent here, you could’ve been building worlds! You could’ve been redefining life and how we live it! The day you gave into your weakness, Shaw, that was the day you became obsolete.”
– Ritchie Simpson, Constantine
Episode 11, “A Whole World Out There”
To be obsolete is to be “outmoded, discarded, fallen into disuse.” That is a perfect descriptor for Jacob Shaw, a man who was once considered brilliant, but who ended up contributing nothing meaningful to the world. Instead he used his gifts and discoveries only in service to his perverse, monstrous appetites, and so his usefulness was ended. He outmoded himself.
That’s what happens when we give into our weakness, our petty, selfish desires, and let them rule us. When we stop giving to the world, stop adding our knowledge to the human consciousness, that’s when we become irrelevant.
Ritchie Simpsons’s words, which he delivers at the climactic moment when he is taking what Jacob Shaw could have done and actually does it, are especially potent considering his own past. He recently suffered a terrible wound to his soul, a defeat at the hands of darkness, and ever since then, well, he’s pretty much been hiding from the world. His collision with Shaw, however, gives him a magnificent opportunity, and he takes it. In a breath, he does what Shaw could have spent decades doing, and he creates something new and wondrous and powerful. And then he goes back home, and, in a much, much smaller way, he stops hiding and meets our world head-on.
He rose above his weakness, and began to give back again… albeit in a small, humble, supposedly-inconsequential way.
That hit home with me.
Most of us are never going to get anything like the chance these two men had, to literally make an entire world, to expand humanity’s knowledge and understanding in an instant. But we do have the opportunity to build worlds, so to speak, and redefine life, as something better than it has been. It’s just in ways that are smaller and more humble than we generally think. Keeping in touch with friends and family, for instance. Volunteering at a library. Helping someone in need. Whatever.
The point is that we have to look outwards, to overcome our self-centered weakness, whatever that might be for each of us. There are an infinite number of ways we can do something remarkable in everyday life.
And we have all the time in the world… until time suddenly runs out. And we all have wasted time to account for. But as we begin a new year, we can also begin a new day. Every time we wake up, we can strive to do better than we did before.
When my time has run out, I don’t need to say I did something huge. I just want to say that I helped build and contribute to the world I’m leaving behind for future generations.
That will be much better than the obsolescence of a man consumed by his weakness, ya know? 😉