During the recovery from my gum surgery, I decided to plow my way through Season Four episodes of Felicity, the NYU-based TV show that was part of the WB teen drama heyday. I figured it would be comforting.
Throughout the four seasons of the show, Felicity would be constantly faced with the metaphor of a "drawer," presented by her guidance counselor. She was badgered with "So what's in the drawer?" in order to face the question of the unknown. By the fourth and final season [SPOILER ALERT], Felicity had cheated on her true love Ben by consummating her longtime attraction to Noel, the devoted and puppy-dog-eyed best friend. When she confessed it to her counselor, Felicity was once again asked, "So what's in the drawer?" and she finally responded, "I know you think it's Noel." The counselor retorts, "Oh, so now it's a who?"
Yesterday I was watching an interview with Felicity creator J.J. Abrams on Charlie Rose, promoting his new Star Trek movie, and he refused to reveal any details of the final season of LOST by saying, "Why do you want to know what's in the box? Isn't it better to not know?" But I don't think he meant it's better to never know, only that it's better to let the answer be revealed to you in due time.
The lesson? Don't rush it. Let the answer run its course and come to you when it's ready (not when you think you're ready).
Felicity's freshman year roommate Meghan had a mysterious box, literally. She would rebuff anyone who asked her about it, looked at it, or dared think of touching it. When we finally found out what was actually in the box [SPOILER ALERT], it was kind of disappointing, but freaky in a way that foreshadowed J.J. Abrams' future career: the "Twilight Zone" episode revealed that Meghan actually kept Felicity, Ben, and Noel in the box and was orchestrating their every move like a puppetmaster.
Sometimes it's better to not know what's in the box.
All of this reminds me of how I don't like figuring movies out, and never try. I get mad when I do figure it out before the big shocking ending. I'm watching LOST with baited breath but I don't read the blogs or the conspiracy theories that supposedly help you figure the show out. I just watch every week, continuously baffled, and will do so until the big f-ing disappointing ending next season.
Right now in my own life, outside of the TV world, there's a drawer (or a box) with something (or someone) in it and I don't know what (or who) it is. But I'm not really trying to figure it out, either. I'm just trying to get from month to month, make enough money to live on, and try to take advantage of every opportunity as it comes. It's unsettling not to have a long-term plan but I've probably never been so free.
One day I'll get to look inside the box, and maybe I'll be disappointed with what's inside. For now, it's more fun to imagine what it might be.