Lost No More
Lost, the TV show, is no more. The seemingly-inconclusive final episode left many Lost fans wondering what it was all about. What was the island? What was its purpose? What were the numbers, the dharma initiative, and the polar bears? Instead of giving us the answers, the conclusion left us with more questions.
The open-ended finale outraged many viewers who felt duped by the show’s creators. They had had faith that the writers had the story all figured out, and would reveal all the answers at the end. But when that didn’t happen, many fans concluded the producers had made stuff up as they went along; that the show was really just a post-modern mash up of literary, philosophical, scientific and historical references signifying nothing.
Was Lost just another TV show strung together episode by episode, or was it something more? I think so. It’s my conviction that the writers knew what they were doing all along, and gave us the most meaningful and powerful ending possible.
To truly appreciate Lost, you have to look at the complete arc of the show and see it as a grand metaphor of the human condition. In the first frame of the show, Jack’s eye opens (birth). In the last second of the show, Jack’s eye closes (death). The series is a circle, eye opening and eye closing, the span of a human life. Within this circle, is the island.
The island is the physical, conscious, and unconscious landscape within which we live out our lives. Upon this tri-part realm, we can become lost, caged in our ego, our small sense of self. When the plane crashes on the island, each character is lost, apparently isolated on their own island, trapped in their own ego. Confused and fearful, they want only to leave the island, to escape their suffering, and return to “normal”. But they can’t escape their ego by using their ego. It is only through their suffering and sacrifices, and by learning the importance of compassion and sacrifice, and by coming together, that they can escape the enslavement of their ego.
At end of the show, we learn all the characters are dead. As they sit in the pews of the church, as if in airplane seats, Jack’s father opens the door of the church, revealing a bright light. As Kate says, they are now ready to leave. But to where? Heaven? No, this scene celebrates the death (leaving) of their individual egos, and the birth of their liberated selves, connected to each other. The birth of Claire’s baby further emphasizes this theme.
By seeing this arc from dark to light, from lost to saved, from ego to no-self, all the important questions of Lost are explained. What is the island? It is the place inside us where we struggle to escape our ego and save our souls. What were the numbers and dharma initiative? They represent the futile endeavor of the ego, to understand the mysteries of the universe, to understand God, using human intellect; to think that experiments and science will help us grasp, and then control, the ineffable.
What is the heart of the island? The bright light down in the cavern. It is indeed the human heart. The heart of compassion. Should that light go out, all will be lost forever, and the ego will rule us, and the earth. So someone must always guard the heart, preferable someone with a pure one, like Hurley, to make sure this light never goes out.
What is the smoke monster? It is the true enemy of compassion. It is the worst kind of cynicism; a total lack of faith in goodness and compassion. An cynicism that nothing matters, that everything we do means nothing, that there is no purpose, The smoke monster is an evil that cannot be allowed to have free rein over our psychic and physical life. An evil that must be kept bottled up.
By not giving us the technical answers we were expecting in the last episode, the producers of Lost convey the real meaning of the series, and offer us a much better gift. Leading up the end of the series, we were expecting to learn everything, to find out exactly what had been going on. But instead of learning facts, we were given something to feel; something deep and moving. Having suffered through the trials of our Lost friends, we had bonded with them, just as they had done with each other, and we felt joy when they finally came together in happiness. Yet, we also felt the grief of a dying ego (struggling to the end to learn the facts), and the pain/joy that comes with re-birth of our true self (that of love and compassion).
Lost is no more. But if we can open our eyes to the deeper lessons and meaning of the show, we ourselves may be lost no more as well.
See you in another life brother.
Lost No More