While most mythological stories explore at least one or two truths about the way our world works, Lost is unique in that it explores hundreds of them. It’s almost as if Lost is a spiritual guidebook to life. While I sometimes joke around about it, I’m beginning to truly believe that fans of the show will be better equipped to handle the strange new world we are going to inherit in the upcoming years. Whether consciously or subconsciously, it is almost as if Lost is training us to be able to mentally handle the future. The Good Book says that the meek shall inherit the earth. Perhaps it was referring to Lost geeks.
I watched the last Lost episode, “This Place is Death” with about seventy of my fellow Lost bretheren (and sistren) at a sports bar on Manhattan’s West Side. Since we had most of the bar to ourselves, it was dead quite as the episode aired…until, a rather loud, intoxicated girl came into our section from upstairs and, quite oblivious to the transgression she was committing, began to rudely disrupt the presentation with a plethora of hardy guffaws. Of course, she was quickly shushed by dozens of fans and immediately reacted by sneering something to the effect of, “It’s just a show!”
Blasphemy! Just a show? American Idol is just a show! Lost is a wireless download of universal wisdom! Suddenly, as if from the island itself, a thought entered my cranium, which, I shared with a fellow viewer. That one day, that girl would be relying on us for help. That her selfishness, ego, and dependence on material pleasures would likely cause her to be very befuddled during the coming spiritual revolution! All around us, material greed is eroding, the unethical are being outed and punished, and those who define themselves by what they have, rather than what they are, are finding themselves in a very unhappy place, indeed.
Whether you consider yourself spiritual, have a love of material pleasures, or are a selfish bastard, as a Lost fan, I still consider you to be one of us, so to speak. The reason is because whether you realize it or not, on some level, you get it. You get that we are all connected, or at least understand how it could occur. You see how non-paradoxical time-travel can work, to some degree. You know that the universe gives us clues to help us fulfill our destiny. And you understand that our destiny, while set in stone, has certain areas of flexibility that we control. Well, you probably know that, you just might know that you know it…yet.
For the most part, I’ve always thought of fate as the grand master plan of some kind of Supreme Being, or perhaps the result of my soul’s chosen path through this lifetime. As mentioned in my previous column about time travel (“How To Use The Myth of Time Travel in Real Life”), I’ve even thought of fate as the proper path to take to win at the game of life, or at least this round. But lately, Lost has got me thinking differently. Perhaps fate is just the universe making things happen, because that’s the way they have already happened. If time is an illusion, as a number of quantum theorists have proposed, then our idea of linear time may be all in our heads. In reality, we may be jumping around all kinds of timelines that already exist, or as Lost would have us believe, just one timeline.
In “This Place Is Death” we get to see Rousseau’s early island adventure played out just as she said it did. They followed the radio transmission, Montand lost his arm, her crew got sick, and, we assume, Rousseau eventually changes the radio tower message. Everything played out exactly as described. Fate, took its course. From our perspective of jumping around in time with the island Losties, it wasn’t really fate at all, but events exactly as they happened and would always happen. We’re just seeing them out of order. Out of sequence. Out of time.
When we sleep, perhaps our souls journey to a world beyond the constraints of time, and that is why it comes back with messages from our futures. Our minds often don’t know how to process this information, so they convert it into symbols and metaphors we can better process, hence, we get dreams. Perhaps gut instinct and déjà vu works the same way. It’s all because everything that has ever happened, will ever happen, or could ever happen, is happening right now. But we are only seeing what we want to see. Occasionally, when something else slips through, we get premonitions of other experiences that our soul has had, but we have not physically lived through. It’s just like when Faraday was crying when he watched the (fake) Oceanic wreckage being recovered on TV. When asked, he said he had no idea why he was crying. But now we know, because Charlotte—the girl he loved—died. Being a connection of souls, perhaps love connects us in ways our minds cannot recognize.
What I found most interesting about the Faraday and Charlotte exchange was that Charlotte remembered being warned as a child never to come back or she would die. That statement had piqued her curiosity, inspired her to become an archeologist, and eventually brought her to the island. Faraday’s statement caused her to do exactly what he didn’t want her to do. Knowing this, I wonder if Faraday will try to break the rules and tell young Charlotte something else once he sees her. Even if he does though, because Charlotte is supposed to die, she will. That’s because this is what happened. From the perspective of the past, it’s fate, from our perspective though, it’s just the way things went down. It would seem then that Faraday has the freedom to choose what to tell Charlotte, and Charlotte could’ve probably chosen another profession, but she still would have somehow come to the island. The details are malleable, the ultimate result, however, is not.
To return to our old friend metaphor, it’s just like those Choose Your Own Adventure books that were popular in the eighties. The books start out with a certain story, then, the reader gets to choose which action to take by flipping to a particular page. Do you want to explore the creepy sound coming from the basement? Turn to page 23. Do you want to run out of the house and get help, turn to page 42. I believe life works similarly. Your fate is your Choose Your Own Adventure book. In that book, you might choose which school to go to, what career to have, what house to live in, etc. But the key elements of your life—the way you will ultimately effect the lives of others, who you will love, your children, your impact on the world—all that will happen regardless of your choices. If you have a sense of what you are meant to do and are proactive about doing it, life will be a breeze. However, if you have no clue, or resist, you will constantly struggle to go a different way than fate has declared you must go because you have already done so.
Even though this “timeline perspective” seems to be more explainable from a scientific perspective, I still believe that, to some extent at least, we choose what our path through life will be. Maybe we’ve already done it because it has already been programmed, so to speak, but at least at some point, fate seems to have been initiated by something. Perhaps you decided upon it before you were born, or, perhaps you chose it just before the universe is destroyed a billion years from now. Whatever the details, it seems to me that when we challenge ourselves to grow, act in spite of fear, and do whatever it takes to reach our dreams, we are rewarded. With that kind of perspective, we can stay strong as the material world seemingly goes to hell all around us. Hopefully, those who don’t watch Lost will learn to do the same. Somehow, I don’t think American Idol will teach the same lessons, but hey, anything’s possible.
Marc Oromaner is a New York City writer whose new 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: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Myth-of-LOST/34096821137
The Myth of Lost is available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Myth-Lost-Solving-Mysteries-Understanding/dp/0595484565 and barnesandnoble.com: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Myth-Of-Lost/Marc-Oromaner/e/9780595484560