Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Losing Lost

Well, it's over.

In one sense, my response is thank God! I can finally quit being lost in Lost! There's always a sense of relief when any long-term project ends. And keep up on Lost is nothing if not a project one must be devoted to in order to make it through all six seasons of the show's many -- very many -- convoluted and often confusing plot trajectories.

In another sense, though, I'm sad. Because the end of Lost also means the end of one more family ritual for our slowly aging and not-so-slowly growing-up family.

For the past few years (we came into Lost via DVD, after the show had already aired for three seasons), Lost has been our family campfire. Once or twice a week, we would meet together in front of the TV at a predetermined time for another wild chapter in this epic tale we were sharing in.

While most any television show could serve this gathering-around function, Lost was a particularly good family campfire. It managed to engage and entertain us adults as well as our two teens, with deep, effective characters wrapped in an engrossing, if warped, ongoing and ever-unfolding adventure-tale. And it was a literary tale that spoke to its audience in a uniquely compelling way: by unfolding on a human scale -- years, just like real life does -- that few, if any, other forms of literature can claim.

So this allowed us, for the past few years of our lives together, to get wrapped up in the same narrative. And it was a narrative that in turn provided more than just the actual "campfire" time together.

Lost also offered ample fuel for the fires of conversation, too. Because Lost -- as this week's series finale drove home -- was all about allegories for the various questions and challenges of life and living -- from parenting/child relations, to love, to honor, to religion, and ... well every Lost fan could come up with their own list of the many things they read between the show's scripted lines.

From my own fully-biased point of view, a major theme of Lost was tribalism: How we function as intertwined individuals. How we become or select leaders. What our personal boundaries are. Responsibility, cooperation, and self reliance. And, as individuals, how we accept, swallow, and move on from our own pasts -- and how those in our lives do the same for us, and for themselves.

And, ultimately, as the last episode drove home in all its trademark bizarre beauty, Lost was about one question: How do we do those things well? How and why should be we be our best in the face of the often convoluted, sometimes confusing, and always ultimately inexplicable mystery that we we're all -- and all together --always surrounded by and engaged in, even if we don't crash on a weird island.

And these are things adults and parents have been discussing -- prompted by strange tales and metaphoric legends -- around campfires for a million years.
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