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Marc Oromaner’s Lost In Myth: How “The Lighthouse” Can Enlighten Us

By Marc Oromaner,

  Filed under: Lost In Myth
  Comments: 43

You’ve probably noticed that in every flash-sideways so far on Lost this season, the central character of the episode has been shown looking into a mirror. Kate looks at herself in the auto body restroom after discovering that Claire was pregnant, Locke in his own bathroom just before attempting to call Jack, and Jack looks at himself both in the airplane while noticing the strange mark on his neck, and again in “The Lighthouse” when noticing an appendix scar that he doesn’t seem to remember. The easy metaphor of course, is that we are looking at secondary versions of these characters through the looking glass. But what’s the deeper meaning for us?

The concept of parallel timelines is coming up a lot lately in various TV shows, films, and commercials. In the Season 8 premiere of The Family Guy titled “Road to the Multiverse,” Stewie and Brian explore a series of alternate universes. The episode reminded me of the nineties TV show, Sliders where Jerry O’Connell’s character leaps into various versions of earth along with three friends. Most recently is ABC’s FlashForward, which offers peaks into a future that apparently can be altered, rendering it as an alternate timeline. There have also been several commercials lately featuring doppelgangers of characters that exist in a happier existence because they chose to go back to school, save wisely, or buy a particular car. The insinuation is that if they don’t make these wise choices they will continue within their current, crappy existence. My favorite movie about alternate timelines is The Butterfly Effect from 2004 where Ashton Kutcher’s character continually changes moments from his past to yield unexpected results.  All of these themes could be teaching us how time may really work, and with the veil of our illusionary reality seeming to get thinner, we just might get to actually experience it for ourselves real soon.

According to most of the theories within the realm of quantum physics, time is an illusion, or at least, does not work in the linear fashion it appears to from our perspective. The basic idea is that every possibility that could’ve ever happened, may one day happen, or is happening all exist in one moment, and that what we focus on becomes our linear experience. The concept is most popularly known as the many-worlds or multiverse theory (hence, the Family Guy episode title). The theory holds that when there are options for an object to exist in multiple states, the universe reveals equally as many universes where that object can experience any one of those multiple options. Similarly, according to the concept of superposition, if we do not know the state of a given object, it actually exists in all possible states as long as we don’t look to see. Once we do, the object is then limited to that single possibility. (On Lost, Jack wonders why they’ve never seen the lighthouse—symbolic of spiritual enlightenment—before. Hurley responds that maybe they weren’t looking for it.) So, putting these concepts together and making it relevant for us: in any given moment there are as many parallel worlds as there are options to choose from, and wherever our mind goes, we go.

It sounds kind of confusing, but really, it’s no different than a video game. You can hold a video game disc in your hand. On that disc is all the programming that the characters within it could ever experience. Its entire life and all its life possibilities exist in one moment. As you play that game, you continually have the freedom of choice to select various paths and options that will lead to a new set of circumstances. Of course, all of these choices and circumstances have already been written into the programming code. But from the character’s perspective in the game, it all seems like a series of new experiences that have formed one path through its life. Should the character die, it’s game over from its point of view and those in that particular version of its reality. But as the game players, we can simply hit the reset button and play the game again. Perhaps if the character had memories or feelings, it might feel as though certain aspects of this second game seem vaguely familiar. It might recognize a major character on its journey or get a sense of déjà vu when it makes a particular choice it had made in the previous game.

The reason the video game metaphor seems to fit so well with our reality, is because this world may work similarly. The major difference is that we may be the ones playing our own characters’ game pieces without realizing it. How ironic that we may have had full control of our lives all along, but that since most of us tend to focus on worrying and negative outcomes that’s where we go.

Imagine you have an upcoming challenge to face.  Successful people tend to focus on the best-case scenario and imagine how they can get there. They also imagine possible hindrances to their objective, but they don’t dwell on them or worry about them. When most people have challenges however, this is exactly what they do. They imagine the worst-case scenario first, in order to prepare for it should it happen. They then imagine different ways they could deal with it. This creates a picture in their mind along with the emotions they would feel during such a scenario. What they don’t realize is that they are giving energy to this outcome, and thereby moving their game piece toward that reality.

This is what the law of attraction mentioned in The Secret is really all about. It isn’t magical thinking. It’s simply about experiencing the best version of yourself that already exists. It’s about leaping into the reality where things work the way you want simply by focusing on that outcome.  Much like the 1973 Mets, “Ya gotta believe!” You might not get exactly what you envision, but you will get that much closer. And maybe, by continuing to believe, you’ll eventually get there.

So if you wish your life were different, that’s your first mistake. You are focusing on what you don’t want rather than what you do. Instead of thinking about the negatives, think and act as though your life is as you want it to be and your mindset will carry you to that version of reality. Right now, there is a version of you that is totally fulfilled—focus on that, connect an emotion with it, live as though it’s already happened (there’s that leap of faith theme again mentioned in Lost ‘316’ on Leaps of Faith & the Cycle of Life”). Do this and you just might begin to experience this reality, while your current reality will continue to exist for another version of yourself. Most likely, your thoughts will simply nudge you closer to where you want to be, but at least it’s a start. And once you get some momentum going, you might get to experience the very best version of yourself. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your life will be easy, but that you will be the most fulfilled. That you have come to terms with an illness or handicap, feel like the luckiest person in the world, or have patched up issues with your son.

From the beginning, Lost has focused on daddy issues. Perhaps these were simply leaked out from Jack’s consciousness all along. Perhaps everyone’s issues had kind of blended together creating a problem stew that had to be properly resolved for the characters to be redeemed. Those with the deepest issues led to events that showed up the most on the island and took the longest to resolve. Why did Jacob want Jack to see that mirror into his life in the lighthouse? Perhaps it wasn’t so much to make Jack feel watched, but to see how his life could be. Much like the ghost of Christmas Future referenced by Sawyer in “The Substitute,” maybe Jacob is just giving Jack a glimpse into a possible future where things can work out, or, remind him of his troubled past with his dad so he can deal with those issues from a new perspective—and let go of them.

Past or future—it doesn’t matter. It’s all an illusion that only exists in our head. The only thing that matters is right now, because it is from the now that we can set the course for our lives. Of course, while we do have the freedom to choose any version of our lives that have been written, we cannot leap into one that has not been. It’s just like those old Choose Your Own Adventure books I’ve mentioned before. You can choose any combination of adventures in the book, but you cannot choose an adventure that isn’t written in its pages. Similarly, you can chose to slip into a version of your life where you have a loving family or where you run a successful business or have become a famous writer, but there is probably no version of your life where you can fly or are a super villain or the richest person in the world. Chances are, it’s just not your path. But it might be someone else’s. Well, except maybe the flying thing. But then again, you never know.

In “The Lighthouse” Lost has planted a seed that encourages us to imagine what other versions of our lives might be like. What would we find by going down the rabbit hole or through the looking glass? This episode was filled with so many Alice in Wonderland references it almost became distracting. We’ve seen the storybook before, and the key hiding underneath the rabbit. Now, we’re getting tons of scenes where characters are looking at their reflections—in bathroom mirrors, in water, in lighthouses, etc. Perhaps in beating us over the head with the symbolism, Lost is simply trying to get us to take a look at ourselves. What kind of story are we creating for our lives? Is it one that is suiting us?

It would seem that Claire has created a story for her life where a group of bad guys have forcefully taken her child away from her. Does she really believe that story, or is it just one she has created to relieve guilt of abandoning her child? Someone mentioned to me that the scene reminded them of them of the film Memento, where Guy Pearce’s character comes to learn the truth about his quest, but decides to continue with his fabricated story in order to give him something to strive for. Similarly, we sometimes lie to ourselves to avoid cognitive dissonance. Unfortunately, these lies often become self-fulfilling prophecies that we create by the very means described above. Just as Claire has created an enemy out of the Others, we often think ourselves into troubled relationships and scenarios that are completely unnecessary and often even harmful. Lost simply seems to be asking us to take a good look at ourselves. Are you challenging yourself to be the highest possible version of who you could be? Is there a character on the show whose faults and issues seem similar to your own? Sometimes, we are too close to our own problems to see them for what they are. It’s easy to see what a control freak Jack is, or how Kate always runs from her problems, or how Locke creates his own troubles. But it’s much more difficult for us to see when we do the exact same thing.

So if there’s a character on Lost that you most relate to, just for fun, reflect on the possibility that perhaps you too share the same issues. If so, how might you go about correcting them? Then, do that. Stop being a victim like Locke and rise above your challenges. Face your fears like Kate will have to do if she will be redeemed. And stop trying to control every detail of life like Jack has done…until his conversation with his son. Lost has given us a cornucopia of character archetypes to choose from, so chances are, one fits you—or perhaps a combination might. Regardless, Lost gives us the tools to understand life and help make our own noticeably better. No wonder so many people see it as much more than just a TV show.


Marc Oromaner
is a New York City writer whose book, The Myth of Lost offers a simple solution to Lost and uncovers its hidden insight into the mysteries of life. He can be contacted in the discussion section of The Myth of Lost Facebook page.

The Myth of Lost is available on Amazon and barnesandnoble.com.

From TVFrenzy:

  • Jack’s Sidekick

    Who do I relate to? Let’s see…loved a girl named Kate who i haven’t let go of for some reason, She always talked about going to Guam, I’ve had to act out on instinct in situations when someone’s in need, father issues, worry I’ll fail…uh…damn.

    • Josh Martin

      B00Bs…I luv em.

  • Why focus on someone with the same issues rather than someone whom you’d most like to emulate. (Now, all you Ben-lovers don’t go and start gassing your neighbors.)

  • amybic

    If you think about it, every character has “Daddy Issues”, even Jin and Sun.

  • arrow

    I think this is a very well written article! Thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts. I will be asking myself the questions you presented.

  • Wanda

    Claire didn’t need to be crazy to make an enemy out of the Others. They’ve spent three years locking the survivors in cages, torturing them with electric shocks, and then claiming to be the good guys. Oh yeah, and kidnapping Claire so they could cut her fetus out.

    The fact that they didn’t take Aaron this time hardly makes them good.

  • Dan Berry

    I guess this is as good a place as any to tell this story. My name is Dan Berry and I can testify that the creators of LOST are very aware of the nature of reality and are explaining it to the world through the intricately staged wonder that is LOST.

    I graduated high school in Memphis, TN and moved to Knoxville for college at a state school. My plan was to go to an art school after a couple of years of undergraduate general education. While in Knoxville I fell in love with a girl named Ashley. She was always telling me about how she sees the number 51 every day and her friends all thought it was a sign. We dated for 2 years until I was told she cheated on me. By this time I was registered for classes at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta, so that I could be driving distance from Knoxville. With no other choice I moved into the Atlanta Apartment Dorms at SCAD, and was randomly placed to live with a guy named Chris. He had previously planned on rooming with a close friend of his named Dan Dewberry, yet Dewberry chose to attend SCAD Savannah instead at the last minute, leaving Chris to be randomly assigned to live with the replacement, Dan Berry. While living in Atlanta I began dating a girl named Aley who attended Savannah SCAD. Each weekend I would drive down to visit her until I chose to move to Savannah to be closer to her. After 9 months we broke up and my summer 2009 began with a trip to Bonnaroo with my good friend Dillon. We drove from Memphis to Nashville, only to realize I had forgotten my ticket. After a return trip and back, we had driven 9 hours, only to show up at the back of the line. A bearded man came out of the forest and told us to follow him to the front. Four cars, including us, followed this man and he led us to the front of the line, getting our camp set up by 5. I ended up getting separated from Dillon and meeting a girl named Sam from San Fransisco. The next day I introduced them and they now live together in Nashville, she moved from San Fran to be with him.

    Later on in the summer I met a girl named Sarah Berry and, because of our last names being the same, we went camping together. Shortly after I began to experience a series of 108 sightings. I would, and still to this day, see this set of numbers daily. I would find this number on receipts, license plates on the cars in front of me, addresses of people I had recently met or restaurants I frequently visited, and periodically when I randomly took my phone out to see the time. It was even in phone numbers of people I met that later became good friends. I did some research to see the meaning behind it because it was driving me crazy. The number is very spiritual, and as LOST fanatics many of you have probably already looked into its significance. There are even ratio distances pertaining to the sun, earth, and moon, and their respective diameters.

    Sometime later I started studying quantum mechanics for fun, meditating on my couch. I suggest anyone interested in the subject to look up videos about the double slit test, which determined that electrons act as both pieces of matter and waves of possibilities, only constricted by the conscious observer. This in turn gave me the idea that TIME was not even real. Past and Future were both abstract thoughts, memories and anticipation. This is why the article I just read struck home with me. I had experienced all the things that the writer was analyzing in the show of LOST. This show is very well acted, and very well written, but I myself in my own life have been experiencing these things first hand. I began to interpret 108 as not numbers with calculated value, but symbols. 1 for the linear path of experienced time, 0 as the cyclical, repeating loop of history through time, and 8 as the never ending eternal exchange of energy. Because if there is no such thing as time, then the reality we inhabit and witness is simply a distortion of a single energy field, manipulated by consciousness that has been evolving on this planet for millions of years.

    I even took the numbers and turned them sideways, with the 1 on the bottom as the first step of man recognizing the earth as a flat surface, the 0 as man’s progress toward the realization of a spherical earth, to the 8 of infinite cosmos that floats above us, and inside of us, and all around us. To me, when I saw these numbers I believed that I was on the right track. I began producing art to visually explain the thoughts I had experienced over the summer.

    http://danomano65.deviantart.com/art/LEGIT-HUMAN-146181664

    These are visual depictions of the interaction between the 3rd, 4th, and 5th dimension as we as conscious observers and conductors of reality project our inner intentions, emotions, and desires into the murky cloud that is probability. Without a time to pass through, our bodies are simply sitting stationary in the 3rd dimension, held together by the massive chain of gravitational forces produced by black holes, stars, planets, and adjacent moons. Time is instead a web of choices that passes through us. Imagine a playdough spaghetti masher. We are the holes on the plane of reality. The playdough itself is a bundle of possible choices presented to the observer, who is able to move about the plane of reality. As the playdough is mashed through the holes it produces strings, with apparent beginnings and linear paths of memory. The tails are initial births of the consciousness and the long spaghetti strings represent our 4th dimensional organic bodies. Instead of our physical selves traversing a web of tubes in the 4D perspective, it is our choices and projected intentions that form the web in the “past” which is a collective hallucination. These spaghetti strings over lap and curl and interact with each other in ways that we can hardly conceive, creating over lapping connections throughout each of our lives.

    Toward the end of my summer I met a friend named Alix on a random front porch of a party in a house that had just been rented. He was from Trinidad and we discussed graphic novel and cartoon project possibilities and became best friends in the process. Later we figured out that I had gone camping with Sarah Berry, his exgirlfriend. And he had roomed with Dan Dewberry in Savannah, while I was living with Chris in Atlanta. And every weekend when I would go to Savannah, Dan Dewberry was trekking up to Atlanta to switch spots with me. After understanding all of these connections I cam to the conclusion that everyone in this reality is connected in ways that we do not understand, since we are all byproducts of the same progressive process of cause and effect that is the Universe. Everything in existence was entangled from the get go, and it is in quantum mechanics that I found the beginning of my spiritual journey. A few articles and videos about the science of reality led me to a spiritual place in my life, one where I decide my identity and conscious behavior. It was when man began to rely on his time measuring devices that he fell away from the one pure moment of experience that is reality. People let the rotation of the earth and its revolutions around the sun con them into believing that we are compounding years by revolving in a circle, when we are actually moving through space in a spiral motion due to the movement of the sun itself around the galaxy. There is only now and the given energy state affected by super-massive gravity conditions.

    And since everything is composed of the same material, such as protons, neutrons, and electrons, then everything is energy. Leading to the concept of thought as electromagnetic frequencies that ‘attract’ the reality projected. The writer of the article above is spot on. Our focus is the key. Thinking “I don’t want THAT to happen” means the person is realizing THAT in their mind. When they should focus on “THIS will happen” leaving THIS to be the only thought projected. It is a difficult practice, but it combines the science and faith required to manifest desired reality.

    Recently I have been seeing the number 51 everywhere. It reminded me my exgirlfriend in Knoxville that would see 51 all the time. For days I wondered why I was seeing this number. I began to study it as symbols, like the 108. The curved and angular line of the 5, compared the straight and poignant 1, could represent a gain of more conscious progression in a short amount of time. It could also represent the difference between a path of indecision, compared to the “as the crow flies” path of the 1. Either way, I was really freaked out to learn that Kate’s number on the Lighthouse panel was 51. Especially since I didn’t learn of her number until I was at the library after LOST on Tuesday, where I opened a book to the exact page number I needed 5 seconds before seeing 51 on my phone when I looked at the time.

    All I know is that the creators of this show know something. And this knowledge is not difficult to find. I was in search for enlightenment and inner peace, and so the road signs revealed themselves. 108 shows up daily to remind me of my path, and my lack of control over its direction. We all have connections with people we know. We all have numbers in our lives that we probably don’t notice. Because we are not looking for them. Everyone is born into this organic tapestry of life and death.

    Perhaps our main objective by coming to this island in space, the planet we call earth, is to accept our mortality and face death without fear. Because after all we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Maybe we are all playing a game of chance with ourselves, choosing to return to this life in a reincarnational test of faith.

    One thing I noticed in my story is that LOVE is in charge of leading the way. If I hadn’t loved Ashley I would have never roomed with Chris and dated Aley, moved to Savannah to make the connection with Alix and further my understanding of reality. It is with LOVE that the species we represent was developed. LOVE is the will of God, and equivalent to the will to survive. Because the instinctual LOVE for one’s offspring at the early stages of evolutionary development led us to more cohesive tribes, cities, empires and nations. Without LOVE the world as we know it could not have existed.

    I hope some find this relevant. I continue down my path, as all of you do. We are all continually fulfilling our purpose, whether we know it or not.

    • Casey

      Jeez.

    • HandsomeSmitty

      Sober since ’79….

      Just saying, that’s all.

    • Weakleydrake

      woah…that really spoke to me…thank you for writing that

    • Dolce

      Uhhhmmmm, wow? Though that was interesting, I think you might be reading a little much into things. Just sayin’.

    • Cutter XXIII

      That is awesome.

      “Manifest Reality Responsibly.”

    • Matt

      A lot of what is talked about in this article and the mention of The Secret as well as what you’ve mentioned here Dan, reminds me so much of the meta physical documentaries like What the Bleep do We Know, Down the Rabbit Hole. I always kind of thought that the writers of Lost were influenced by these sorts of things. It has been heavily confirmed this season. They offer so much to us to sit back and take a look at ourselves, and it is pretty amazing to see someone who has done that. This is a well written article, and your comment compliments it.

      I wish you luck, and keep searching!

    • Wow, thanks for sharing that Dan. Your destiny is clearly to express complex scientific ideas through art. But you already knew that. I think you might enjoy the column I wrote about proxies: http://www.docarzt.com/lost/lost-in-myth/marc-oromaners-lost-in-myth-“he’s-our-you”—how-proxies-play-a-role-in-our-lives/ since similar patterns keep showing up in your life. (You might also like the column about 316 and the cycles of life).

      I look at our experiences more as a spiral with the vertical parts of the spiral all aligning with similar themes through our lives and through history. Your view of dimensions are similar to a friend of mine. If you’d like to go further down the rabbit hole, contact Stephen Popiotek on Facebook.

  • joshua

    Sometimes when i make an important decision, if i feel its wrong… maybe it was wrong. Maybe I altered something. Maybe if I would have chosen a different path, time and time again, then the outcomes would have brought be to a different place. The right place. Maybe it happens to us all. Maybe the happy me doesnt have thinning hair and didnt get a ticket tonight =(

    • Joshua–I don’t believe that there is a wrong or right path. It’s just a path that will give you the most satisfying experience of who you are. If you make a choice that is not in line with that, you will be given another chance, and another and another. If your life is not where you’d like it to be, it may be because you are fighting against the path you are destined to be because besides being the most fulfilling, it is also the most challenging. Right now, your life lessons have put you in the perfect place to take advantage of what you were born to do. You have the tools, you just need to go for it.

      Oh, and perhaps in your parallel life you didn’t get a ticket but then you got into an accident and smashed up your car and threw out your back. Be grateful for everything in life. What seems crappy can be a blessing in disguise.

  • Great column this week, Marc. Liked a lot of what you wrote here, especially the Claire/Memento/cognitive dissonance section. Keep on keepin’ on!

    • Casey

      Please. Don’t encourage him.

      But then, look who I’m talking to…

      • JCM

        Do you just sit around posting jerky comments on here? Sad.

      • Yous’ just jealous….

  • meli

    Thank you for your thought-provoking article. I really appreciate interpretations of Lost that focus on the character aspects of the story. I love the mythology and sci fi stuff too, but the character development is what makes Lost special.

  • I totally agree. I am a photographer and I had this darkroom that was in a bunker in the ground, and in it was a copy of the third policeman jammed under an old Apple II. Yesterday I faced one of my biggest fears and suffer the consequences right now, because there was no way around it. Now I wait for may 23.

  • Nobody can tell ya…

  • RandallA

    Great article.

  • ct

    I wish you wouldn’t mix science and spirituality the way you do. The first half of your essay is fine on its own, as it the second half, but put together they do a disservice to anyone who is learning about quantum physics.

    I’m not going to rant or rave; I’m just going to point to one place where you went way off the scientific path:

    “Similarly, you can chose to slip into a version of your life where you have a loving family or where you run a successful business or have become a famous writer, but there is probably no version of your life where you can fly or are a super villain or the richest person in the world. Chances are, it’s just not your path. But it might be someone else’s. Well, except maybe the flying thing. But then again, you never know.”

    According to the multiverse theory, there IS a version of “your life” where you can fly and there IS a version where you are a superhero. Because according to the multiverse theory, EVERY SINGLE POSSIBLE UNIVERSE exists. Including ones where you have X-Ray vision.

    But the idea that through “the secret” “law of attraction” you can will yourself into a different universe is, at the very least, unscientific. I’m not saying that positive thinking doesn’t lead to good results — but that’s psychology, not physics.

    • In many ways, spirituality can just be science that has not been discovered yet.

      The definition for multiverse I was referencing was this one:

      “The second interpretation of quantum theory is the many-worlds (or multiverse theory. It holds that as soon as a potential exists for any object to be in any state, the universe of that object transmutes into a series of parallel universes equal to the number of possible states in which that the object can exist, with each universe containing a unique single possible state of that object. Furthermore, there is a mechanism for interaction between these universes that somehow permits all states to be accessible in some way and for all possible states to be affected in some manner.”

      From this perspective, it is not every single possibility that exists, just when a potential for more than one. And there is a mechanism for interaction–who’s to say that mechanism is not the brain? What if the mind acts as a vortex to all our other realities? Perhaps this is why the mind has still not really been found within the brain–because it exists in multiple dimensions.

      We still know very little about quantum physics. Certainly too little to say that any person’s interpretation of it is most definitely incorrect. I have faith that within our lifetimes, science and spirituality will come to say basically the same thing.

  • Kupo

    I’d go with the flow-theory (look it up, it’s by mihail czykszentmihaily) on this subject;
    The universe is a fixed thing, whatever we think with our brains isn’t influencing that. But we CAN convince ourselves to see happiness and a bright side in any aspect of our lives, and to play into that consciously.

    Our brain is just a pattern-matching organ, capable of finding meaning in everything. I don’t like the way “the secret” and “law of attraction” explains that aspect of our lives. I don’t want to degrade the world around me by considering myself the only master of my own existence.

    Awesome, thought-provoking article! Comparing the current posts on this blog to the ones from last year, it’s all the more clear; Lost has shifted once again from its science-perspective to the faith-stuff. I wonder if those two very different sides to the show will come together before the end.

    • Glad you liked it. I would agree that one individual alone is not the master of his own existence. The reason is because I believe we are all one. Much like the Losties, our destinies are all intertwined. If you are failing to do your part in a particular reality, others who are depending on you will influence you directly or indirectly to step up your game. The more people your life has the potential to influence, the more pressure you’ll get to do so. But if you fail in this reality, no worries. You succeeded in another.

  • joe_bones

    butterfly effect was laughably bad though….

  • lostinnashville

    What a thought provoking and well written article! Have placed myself on a short leash re: reading recaps and articles and forums so close to the finale. I hate stumbling across stuff like “Jack has a son” when I just want to spend a little time down the rabbit hole thinking about the fascinating themes of this awesome show. Marc, your articles are my absolute favorite and one of the few columns I can count on to make me think without spoiling the fun with too much speculation. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and ideas…I always find some kind of pearl to make the Lost experience even more enjoyable.

  • Hello my friend! I want to say that this article is amazing, nice written and include approximately all vital infos. I would like to see more posts like this .