A couple minutes ago I watched the credits roll on the final episode of LOST. I spent the past four weeks cruising through the series. It’s not that I missed the show during its original run. I watched it when it was on the air weekly. I was one of those LOST geeks, looking for “Easter eggs” and spending hours each week mentally dissecting the episodes. As an introvert who spends entirely too much time inside her own head working out mental details, that show was a perfect outlet for me at a time in my life when I was lost. It was easier to watch and find meaning in it than it was to make sense of the chaos, confusion, and struggles in my own life. LOST was an escape. During the years that show aired, there were plenty of times when I longed to be on a tropical island with Sawyer, although I might have envisioned one without smoke monsters and polar bears.
I remember as the show was in its final season, my friends and I discussed at great length how the writers were going to wrap it all up. There were so many details. They had tortured us mercilessly with unanswered questions each week. Would they be able to put all the puzzle pieces in place? After each episode in the final season, we would catalog explanations we’d received and bicker about whether they felt adequate and well placed. When the show ended and the final credits rolled, some LOST devotees were satisfied and others were, well….lost. I fell firmly into the first category. I was honestly happy that the writers left some pieces unexplained because that meant that I could watch the show over and over again and find my own meaning. There’s no fun if you’re given all the answers.
As I set out to view the series in its entirety this time, from the first episode of the first season all the way through the show’s finale, I suspected the show would make any more sense to me now than it did at the time. I would benefit from knowing the ending because that knowledge would change how I viewed the events leading up to it. I had my own theory about the characters and the story line, and I was going to test it out in my non-stop mind. I whipped my way through season after season desperately seeking whether the writers had hinted at the ending the whole time. Watching the show again was like having a conversation with a good friend you haven’t seen in years. It was as if no time had passed. And I discovered that the Season Three finale, Through the Looking Glass, was no less painful the second time around. I had a nice ugly cry over it again. I am not sure that wound will ever heal.
The closer I got to the end of the show this time around, though, the more I found myself letting go of the set up. I didn’t seem to care as much if my hypothesis was correct. By the point in Season 5 when Daniel Farraday says, “Whatever happened, happened,” I had let go of my obsessive need to figure the show out. Daniel was right. Truth is that it doesn’t really matter how it all happened. You can neatly fold back the layers like skin on a junior-high-biology-class frog, but it makes no difference. At the end of the day, all that matters is that it happened. Daniel’s insight reminded me of a quote from the Bunny Buddhism book:
One need not know why the nose twitches but simply know that it twitches.
You can spend your entire life looking for explanations as to why things have happened a certain way in your life. Why, perhaps, you ended up with the spouse you did or the career you have. How you ended up living somewhere you said you never would or how things have worked out nothing like you anticipated. Life is full of questions that are either unanswerable or answerable only with a huge degree of uncertainty about the validity of the answer. Mentally dissecting what is is merely a colossal waste of fleeting time. If we get bogged down with the details of our past, we can’t move forward in the present. It doesn’t matter how we get there but that we make the journey and make it worthwhile.
I don’t need to know all the answers to LOST to enjoy it. I don’t need to have it tied neatly in a bow. Likewise, I don’t need to have all the answers to be happy in my life. Whatever happened, happened. Whatever twitches, twitches. With each passing year it becomes more apparent to me that the why and how of life are not nearly as important as the that.