Tonight, on Sunday May 23, 2010, LOST will come to a close.
Among all the hype surrounding the end of this show one thing needs to be remembered; it is only a television show, nothing more and nothing less. It shouldn't be held in the same regard as a major event in the life of a family member or a truly historic event in human history. At the same time, let's not undervalue the importance of storytelling whether on television, film, or in book.
Mankind loves storytelling. From Homer to Shakespeare to Hemmingway, telling each other stories has remained the most effective ways to deliver universal truths. Jesus Christ himself used parables to explain the nature of God and his Kingdom to the masses.
The commitment to storytelling is what made me a die hard LOST fan. Yes, the mysteries were enticing and the connections between characters were exciting, but they took a back seat to the characters and the over-arcing story. The characters on this show were just like me and everybody else I knew. They had great strengths and deep flaws. They were searching for purpose, redemption, reconciliation, forgiveness, love, and hope. It didn't matter that they were on some mystical island were people never aged and smoke monsters ran free; at the end of the day we were very similar.
In addition, the show has always been rooted in deep spirituality. One of the major themes has been "faith vs. science," which has been exemplified in the character of Jack Shepherd. The "science" was never about whether numbers and figures were absolute, but more about whether one should but their sole reliance on them. Likewise, "faith" was never about an abandon to the practical, but more about a willingness to given in to mystery and trust in "being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.." (Hebrews 11:1) This debate is not new and LOST certainly didn't start it, and that's the point. We all have asked, in one fashion or another, are we people of science of faith? I believe that this has been one of the main reasons that LOST has remained such a presence in culture.
My admiration for LOST goes even a little deeper than the reasons above. The premiere was September 22, 2004, a date that many LOST fans commemorate by observing a day of remembrance for Oceanic 815. I moved to Chicago on June 1, 2004 and LOST played a very important part during my first year of Chicago. I suppose it's time to admit that I did not watch the pilot episode or the four episodes after it. At the time I was a Smallville fan and they aired against each other. This is my dark secret concerning LOST. When I did start watching it I was instantly hooked. My first year in Chicago was a bit of a hard one, full of transitions and, without being too dramatic, survival. Perhaps a story about a group of strangers coming together seemed familiar to me as I made new friends and was welcomed into new communities.
In my first meeting with a counselor while dealing with OCD I used an LOST based analogy to describe how I felt when I needed to fulfill a compulsion. In the second season the characters felt like they needed to "push the button" in the Dharma hatch to save the world. I often felt like that when I was struggling with a compulsion.
LOST has been on for six years and I great deal of things have happened in my life since the premiere. There has been great time of celebration and deep mourning. Relationship have started and ended. Friends have come and gone. While I don't seem my life through "LOST lenses" these events in my life have helped me relate to the characters on the island. This personal connection along with the entertaining and meaningful storytelling has made LOST my must see show for the last six years.
Forgive the pun, but I will not feel "lost" after the finale tonight. My guess is that I will be deeply satisfied and entertained by with the finale and I will very much enjoy the company of some other devoted Lost fans. We will laugh and maybe even cry (probably just me). Tomorrow I will talk about it with co-workers and I will think about it for the next week or so. In a few months I will purchase the final season on DVD and watch it over again. Ultimately, my life will go on because it is only a TV show.
The final destination for LOST for me will be that I will come back to it time and time again either to quote it, illustrate a point, or watch it with for the sake of enjoyment. Perhaps, in the future I will teach a class on it and it's deeper meanings. It will be held in the same regard as I hold the original Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Batman, and Superman. It is something that captures my imagination, entertains me, and compels me to ask big questions. This is what great storytelling does, and the world is a better place for it.
There will be one quote that I imagine that I will come back to more than others. Perhaps it is because it was said in the first season during my time of seeking community. Perhaps it is simply because it is true. But the words Jack said to the bickering survivors of Oceanic 815 are my go to LOST quote.
"If we can't live together—we're gonna die alone."