Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Blessings, disguised

How cheated do you feel with the ending of "Lost" ?
That was all the email said. It was from my brother and I received it Tuesday, two days after the finale but less than 12 hours after I'd finished watching it from my TiVo.

I wasn't surprised by his question.

My mind had wandered for just a moment during that last scene between Christian and Jack: "A lot of people are going to be pissed about this", I thought.

I remembered the early speculation that the LOSTies were all dead from the crash and the Island was some sort of Hell/Heaven/Purgatory. Such theories represented the backlash against the popularity of the show; they were a way to dismiss how passionate people were becoming about the mysteries and the characters.

Now, before me, Jack was coming to understand that he had, in fact, died. Instead of feeling cheated, however, I felt moved.

The LOST finale is one of the two most powerful pieces of pop culture I've experienced.

(The other is Truly, Madly, Deeply. Give it a go if you like tear-jerkers. And dead people.)

The finale, especially the last 20 minutes or so, as everyone comes to realize and accept their condition, resonated with me more than I ever could have anticipated. It took me back to the night I sat holding my mother's hand, at her bedside, coaxing her gently into whatever light or darkness awaited her now that her body had been irreparably damaged by cancer.

She was ready to leave and I wanted her to know I understood. I whispered to her that it was okay, she could go now, we would be alright.

Watching Christian explain to Jack that it was alright for him, too, to move on, I felt intimately connected to the message. It was profoundly true and I was astounded that someone else knew it.

Here's what else I know:

Jack died on the Island. At the moment of his death he found himself in Sideways world, believing he'd had a past that he'd never had. He had died but he wasn't ready to leave, not by himself. He needed his tribe, and they needed him. That was Christian's message.

(I loved, by the way, how the writers drew attention to Christian's full name, just before it took on its real meaning for the character - very clever!)

The scene shared by Ben and Hurley, so lovely I found myself crying again the next day as I tried to describe it, emphasized that we won't move on until we are ready. Ben wasn't prepared to leave with the others, deciding instead to 'sit for a while'. This is true with life just as it may be with death.

Season 6 gave us two stories: the end of Jack's life and the end of Jack's dying. We didn't realize we were witnessing Jack's dying until it was nearly too late to appreciate and I believe that may have trapped some viewers, giving them an opportunity to confuse themselves about what they'd witnessed.

Neither story implies that the events on that very unusual, nearly-magical Island didn't happen. They did happen, and they led to Jack's death. But the Island experience wasn't the only journey the LOST team gave us: they also gifted us with some wonderful possibilities for our own destinies.

So no, I don't feel cheated.

I feel blessed.

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