May 24, 2010

Aren't We All LOST?

I watch less and less TV since my return from a television-free month in the desert last summer.

Sure, I've traded Guiding Light for General Hospital, but otherwise I've been reticent to schedule in any more appointment TV, choosing to live instead of watching others live.

One holdout has been LOST, partially because I knew that this sixth and final season would release me soon from its bewildering shackles.

As of this morning, I am free.

Granted, I didn't spend six years trying to figure the show out, dissecting the Easter egg clues and philosophical references. When the characters started traveling through time, I was in for the ride. I enjoyed the high-stakes tale of survival, the incredible sense of adventure that the setting, characters, and plotline created, taking me to places and showing me things that I have not (yet) experienced.

And even though I had accepted that certain things about the show would never be resolved, I was hoping it would at least, finally, make sense.

I can't say that it did.

I'm glad I didn't spend a lot of time reading internet theories about the show, my only time investment being when I actually watched an episode, or maybe some morning-after chitchat with fellow viewers at work. I'm glad I didn't imagine all sorts of crazy explanations for where they were and why.

When it comes down to it, sometimes it doesn't matter.

I must admit, in fact, that I have little patience with imagination.

Then again, I do imagine things all the time.

I imagine conversations and bits of dialogue, many of which I end up actually uttering. I imagine sensations, exhilarations, intoxications and heartbreaks as much as I did as a captive child, relishing each and every opportunity I get to actually experience them, be they good or bad.

And as much as I love imagining new ideas, new places, new technology, and new flavor combinations, the most frustrating thing of all is not being able to actually experience them.

What’s the point of imagining something you can or will never encounter? What happens when the events in your imagination never actually happen, and can never happen? Are you then cursed to lead a life of disappointment?

I think that trying to figure life out as you live through it is somewhat of a losing game. Even if you figure out its secrets, its mythologies, and its character motivations, like LOST or The Sixth Sense or any other "big secret" / "big reveal" story, you don't actually know you're right until the story is over. And then what do you have? Were you able to enjoy the experience any better, just because you'd "figured it out" halfway through?

And what if you're wrong? What if your theory is so much better than ... reality? What happens when you figure that out?

There is a certain pleasure in not knowing, in taking life's clues as they are revealed to you, and building the story as you go along. In reality, people's motivations change. Circumstances change. People make unlikely, unwise and sometimes completely unpredictable decisions.

Despite the prevalence of wacky iconography, far-fetched storylines and incongruous, anti-linear plot devices, as far as I can tell, the "secret" of LOST has something to do with having a purpose in life, helping others, not dying alone, and letting go. It ended on a purely emotional, interpersonal note and, like in a bad dream, ignored all the crazy shit that happened that can't be explained.

So maybe to move on in life (and after, or whatever), we must stop trying to find meaning in every little detail, and focus on what really matters: the people we love.

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