Thursday, May 14, 2009

LOST much?

I took the night off last night to watch the season finale of LOST. First of all, I must admit that I hated to watch it, because it means that I have months to wait for another installment! This show is amazing on so many levels. Not only the science fiction aspect, the religious references, the themes, but most of all, the character development.

I have always been fascinated with the stories behind the stories, and LOST gave me just that. In flashbacks, flash forwards, and odd dropped in scenes, we were able to see what brought each of the survivors to this point, and what made them who they are today. It added such depth to the idea that each of them was LOST, not only physically, but emotionally and socially, as well.

Through the five years thus far, we have come to understand and love each of the characters, flawed as they are. We identify with their pain, their failures. But to see them grow and develop in a society that was stressful and life threatening at every turn – that was fascinating. Each of them had grown in many ways, and had found themselves in the process of finding their way back to civilization.

Watching the finale brought up a dilemma that I think deserves a bit of pondering. I had spoken with a friend earlier in the day, who mentioned the theory that LOST will end with Flight 815 landing safely in LA as it should have five years ago. I was very disgruntled at this idea, but until we talked, I hadn’t put my finger on why.

It is the growth of the characters, how far they have come. To have it all end happily means that everything that they learned along the way is now LOST. This was reinforced during the scene with Jack and Sawyer. Sawyer did not want Jack to “correct” the future, as it would erase all of the good that he had experienced since he landed on the island. It would take away the happiness and normalcy that he had gained with the Dharma group. This had been sorely lacking before he came to the island. At the moment that he landed on the island, he had anger issues, was a con-man by profession, had just killed an innocent man, and had never had a meaningful relationship in his life. At the end of the 3+ years on the island, he had a good life with Juliette, a good job, and people that he enjoyed being with. He had truly become a community member.

Correcting the future means that this would never have happened. He reminds Jack that if the correction is successful, Jack and Kate will have never met. While Jack seems determined to erase the difficulties, Sawyer is trying to hold on to the joy. Then he asks, “What do you want, Jack?”

Good question. What do you want? We do not ask ourselves this question often enough. We get so busy being busy, spinning our wheels without regard to the direction that our lives have taken, that we forget to course correct. And how do you know which way to go? What do you want? Have you stopped to see if your current movements are taking you closer to that goal?

It reminds me of a list of abstract questions that we used to use when I was a member of the hiring staff at the company that I worked for. We would ask a series of odd questions, nothing related to the job itself, because it revealed more of the values and attitudes of the candidate than the standard job related questions did.

The one question that came to mind was this: “If you could live for one year in complete bliss, everything absolutely perfect – but at the end of the year you would return to your former life with no memory of the year of happiness – would you do it?”

Answers were all over the board, but the one that I found the most compelling was a woman who said that she would not be interested in this scenario. She said that she wouldn’t want to give up a year of her life, even if she enjoyed it at the time. She valued the memories and the personal growth that one experiences in a year’s time.

My personal answer was that I would take it unequivocably – but also thinking that somehow, some way, I would remember it even if they tried to take it from me!

So here’s the question of the day…would you trade in all of the things that you have learned in exchange for losing all of the pain and struggle of your life? Would you want to go back and do it again, without the trials? (which, in the case of the LOST survivors, meant polar bears on a tropical island, a smoke monster that judges you, and whispering trees, but that is another point altogether!)

It is so tempting to hand over those difficulties, I must admit! I have often thought that I would like a nice, peaceful, boring life. But the truth is, I wouldn’t want that. I have learned so much along the way, things that have taught me what is important in life, and what to focus on. I would have none of the joy of having defeated my personal dragons. Happy little ruts cease to be happy when there is no sorrow mixed in. They become mundane.

And each of my trials has prepared me for a bigger trial, which I was able to withstand because of the strength that I had gained in the smaller struggle. Things that would have overwhelmed and broken me if I had not had the experience to prepare me. Eventually, we will all experience some major life changing event, and we need to build up our reserve by regularly exercising our will and determination.

The second half of that thought is that we become too content to be mediocre, when we could be great. We would never make the decision to bring hardship upon ourselves, but these are the moments when we see most clearly, and that help us to redefine who we are and where we are going.

We are left hanging as to the success or failure of Jack’s efforts. We do not know if the future has been ‘corrected’, or if Jack merely did what he had done the first time around, that caused the chain of events in the first place. And we have months before we find out.

But in the meanwhile, I’m going to hope that he failed in his quest to save them from crashing on the island. I think that a little bit of LOST is a good thing, especially when it helps you find yourself.

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