7 Lessons Learned from LOST

My Huffington Post blog about Lost explains why I think so highly of the show and my musings about what its creators were up to when they conceived and developed it over the last six years.  Yet it warrants additional space here to explore my favorite seven conscious lessons to be learned from this juggernaut:

1.   It’s easy to get Lost in The Drama of the Human Experience

I believe we’re here to experience the world through the limited but unique perspectives that humanity affords.  We come from spirit into a body, mold a personality, develop an ego, and with these tools and others partake in the good and bad, yin and yang, tragedy and triumph which the human experience affords.

Lost had more than an average person’s lifetime of human drama in it and for the first several seasons, it seemed the characters traded one drama for another.  First their plane crashed, trauma enough for anyone.  Then they had to plan survival on a south Pacific island while facing non-imminent rescue.  Soon there were the “Others”, the black smoke monster, and Charles Widmore and his hidden agendas to contend with.  The list goes on from there until finally the key main characters escape the island, only to decide to return – to still more drama.

The point is this: during our lifetimes, most of us keep ourselves distracted by trading one drama for another while forgetting to look past the drama altogether to the deeper aspects of existence: why are we here and what are we to do while we are?  Lost, like life in its finale, at last attempts answers to those questions, although it certainly doles out enough human drama to last multiple lifetimes on the way.  While – arguably – experiencing the human spectacle is part of the point, wouldn’t the human experience be a little smoother and more fulfilling with less drama and more introspection ?  I think it’s time we at least give that a try.

2.    Faith

A key theme in Lost is “going forth in faith”, not that there’s much alternative.  Yet it’s a potent reminder for the rest of us who aren’t stranded on a desert isle fighting for daily survival to keep hope alive.  Sometimes, you just have to believe everything will be okay.  In particular, you have to believe in yourself, which takes:

3.    Persistence

I can’t recall in fact or fiction a more persistent bunch than the Lost survivors (except maybe the Deadliest Catch Alaskan crab fishermen.  Those guys have some serious backbone).  From wild polar bear attacks to being kidnapped to exploding hatches in the ground to birthing children in a wet jungle with no anesthesia (imagine!) this is a bunch that wants to live.  It seems our life force is strongest when it is most threatened.

Yet how easily most of us (self included) give up, or are tempted to give up.  As I was recently reminded, it’s not that you won’t WANT to quit much or all of what you attempt in this life.  It’s that, when the thing is truly worth it, you go forth even in the face of that feeling.  (Now if you’re still unclear, go watch a few episodes of Deadliest Catch).

4.    Redemption

The Lost characters have done it all.  Ripe with both sinners and saints (but I dare say more sinners), the group includes alcoholics, murderers, con artists, drug dealers and addicts, paid assassins, adulterers, torturers and more.  Still, all are redeemed on the island.  Despite their wayward pasts, we get an up close look at the dual sides of human nature which exist in every one of us.  And we’d do well to remember these lessons from Lost: No one and nothing is what it seems at first, which is why the potential for both good and evil exists equally in everyone.  And since good might just as easily manifest as evil (and over a lifetime, likely both in equal measure), no one is beyond redemption.

When the going gets tough, we all want to be saved just like the Lost castaways.  We have our “knight in shining armor” fantasies, hoping a force other than that of our own efforts will deliver us from suffering.  But also like Lost‘s crew, we discover we’re not separate from that force of redemption.  Eventually we recognize the power to forgive and love each other.  Ultimately we save ourselves.

5.    Life’s Purpose

Is what you make it.  If you feel pre-ordained to do what you do, that’s your purpose.  If you feel you’ve been chosen for a particular mission in life, that’s your purpose.  Whether there’s an absolute authority on purpose really makes no difference; the point is if you’re feeling a calling (as Jack Shephard and John Locke did) follow it. Honor it.  If not – no matter – just do what you love.  Yes, surprise surprise, you get to chose your purpose.

6.    Interconnectedness

You can disagree with a lot on Lost, but you can’t argue the artistry with which the writers wove their intricate tapestry of character connections.  Clearly, we humans aren’t meant to go it alone, and the sooner we realize this, the less suffering for all.

Can you see yourself in “others”? Do you realize to someone else you are “other”? Can you see your enemy as just as human as yourself? As part of a human whole we’re all part of?

We are a holistic system, an integrated entity, much like a hive.  We’re not just connected to one another, when we can see ourselves in another we are one another.

The final moments of the Lost series finale remind us:

“The most important part of your life was the time that you spent with these people.  That’s why all of you are here. Nobody does it alone, Jack.  You needed all of them, and they needed you.” – Christian Shephard.

“For what?” – says Jack, his son.

“To remember, and to let go.” – Christian

7.    Remembering Who We Really Are

We are multi-dimensional beings who occasionally get glimpses of ourselves beyond our current lifetimes or bodies, like the Lost characters d0 in the flash-sideways sequences of the final season.  They are awakened as if from a dream after which they can no longer perceive their present lifetimes, or roles in those lifetimes, as the sum total of who they are.  At first, it’s clear they’ve forgotten the prior/alternate existences they have flashbacks of.  Then, one by one, an encounter with an apparent stranger or random situation triggers a memory, a spark, of how they were linked to that person and lived a connection that truly mattered.  Which brings them to their final purpose of reconnecting (no spoilers here!)

It’s rare any of us will have past-life flashbacks and even those few who do often aren’t served by them in their present lifetime.  Still, there’s another kind of remembering that is valuable.  Remembering that we’re more than who we perceive ourselves to be right now helps us avoid being caught up in the daily drama and trauma of human existence and live instead from a calmer, more centered place: spirit.

At some point, as Jack’s father reminds us, we’ll return to our true essence.  Then we will indeed remember and let go.  Until that moment, awareness of our true nature – despite appearances – keeps us grounded while we’re here embodied in the human spectacle, and will make it easier to transition out of it when the time inevitably comes.  Lost was an eloquent, poignant, intricately portrayed reminder of the journey, and a call to awaken from the dream we take for reality.