What we can learn from Eli Stone

Tis Thing Called Life

I look forward to watching Eli Stone every week. Usually I don’t spend much time watching TV, but a chance encounter on the series got me hooked. At the end of each episode, you take a lesson away with you.


The show started with Eli Stone (starring Jonny Lee Miller), a high profile, brillant, talented but obnoxious, inconsiderate and proud lawyer, having his life shattered due to a diagnosis of brain aneurysm. The operation is very risky and he could either die or become paralyzed as the result.  Because of the risk, he has not done the operation yet.

The look on Eli's face when he sees yet another hallucination

The look on Eli’s face when he sees yet another hallucination

The diagnosis changes his life- he transformed into a humble, considerate, and ethical lawyer. Still brilliant in using his skills, but instead of using it to amass money and win cases for the bad guys, he is using it to help.

He also suffered from hallucinations, anywhere from seeing George Michael performing, having dragons flying in the middle of the city and by his office windows, feeling earthquakes and seeing his serious colleagues turning to singers, sometimes as singers in the church choir. The aneurysm and hallucinations seemed to give him a hint into what would happen in the future- helping him to make decisions to help others.

In one of his hallucinations, Eli saw his serious boss singing with the church choir

In one of his hallucinations, Eli saw his serious boss singing with the church choir

See how real his boss, sings. This is all in his head

He saw his boss singing in his hallucination- and many times, he sang along with the singers- because hey, who can help but get into the happy mood, rite?

The hallucination goes off- and Eli often made a fool out of himself in front of his boss and amused colleagues

But as the hallucination goes off- and Eli often made a fool out of himself in front of his boss and amused colleagues- because he will be halfway singing and everyone will be staring at him like he is some kind of weirdo

What makes the show compelling is that the situations that he is thrown into- and no matter how unethical, he managed to find a solution out (the screenwriters are real a geniuses).

In each episode, he and his colleagues are presented with choices to make- in difficult situations whereby most people would choose to do the most convenient choice- for survivial, for money, and to win the case.

But somehow, Eli always chooses to do the right thing. Using ingenuity, guided by his visions (or hallucinations), he formulated out of the box solutions, he solves the cases and sought out the necessary justice. There are a-ha moments when I thought- ‘yeah, why haven’t I thought of that before?’  when he managed to win a seemingly lost case unexpectedly.

But in his personal life, he also struggles- with the illness, identity, loneliness and the relationships with those around him. He wanted to be loved but does not want any woman to suffer the misery of losing him one day should the aneurism kills him.

The show is reflective of what people who have chosen the road less travelled will be facing.  Individuals who have chosen to follow their callings, go according to their conscience and do the right thing are often ridiculed, discouraged, alone and put-down.

It also brings to a point that nothing is impossible- there’s always a way out that does not involve putting others in misery or cheating people to get ahead.

Yet, it would have been just so easy- taking the easy way out and shortcuts, even though it means causing suffering to others. Isn’t it just much easier to turn the blind eye than to pause, stop, being accountable and to care?

Most of us wouldn’t care or bother- till wake up call comes or till we experience the suffering or face the problems ourselves. From a position of being high and mighty, fate dealt a cruel blow and we find ourselves backed in a corner or down to our knees.

Eventually, time heals all wounds, the bad time passed and we began to see daylight again.

After crawling out from the deep, dark abyss, we usually would select either one of the paths below:

  1. Adopt the philosophy, ‘an eye for an eye’ (…but makes the whole world blind)
  2. Have the kind of empathy and compassion to extend help to others in similar situation because it takes one to know the other.

If we select option 1, we will ended up becoming more disconnected, bitter and resentful- or even have deep guilt and regrets.

If we select option 2 find in their hearts and sometimes a calling to help make the world a better place. Eventually, we would come to realize that the tough, dark period is only life’s training ground- preparing us for greater things to come.

It is possible to be like Eli Stone- to do the right thing, to use his ‘gift’, skills and abilities to help others. There’s always a solution to a problem, a way out. No downfall lasts forever- history shows us countless men and women who have beaten the odds and overcoming obstacles to become even stronger and better than before.

This don’t only happens in drama series and story books- it can happen in your life too.

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