O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith

8 Things I’ve Learned from Watching Lost

lost-logo.jpgAfter six seasons, Lost ended last night. Maybe you were aware of it.

I’m not going to try to recap or analyze the mind-blowing finale in any way, other than to say you can count me among the viewers who were satisfied with the way the series wrapped up. It was ambiguous, of course, and kind of sad in places, but also ultimately hopeful. And that’s as good a way as any to close a show that was always ambigusadtimately hopeful.


Anyway, I’ve watched, faithfully, from the very first Jack eyeball in the very first episode to the last one. And Lost has taught me a few things that are good for me to know. Here they are:

1. You won’t always find the answers to your questions, and that’s OK. Lost was famous for introducing more mysteries than solutions, even in this final season when everyone expected at least a little resolution. And, yes, we got a bit of island backstory and some important revelations, but a bunch of questions were just left hanging. Like, what role did Walt play? I ended the first season thinking Walt was the key to the whole thing, but he pretty much disappeared. (Primarily because kids look different as they age and he had to be written out, but still…)


I have a lot of questions without much resolution. Sometimes I wish I could just get the answers in a big download, but that’s not how life works. There’s a lot of mystery involved whether you have faith or no faith, as we discussed last week. Life is more enjoyable when you reach the point where you’re OK with that, which leads to…

2. Even if you don’t get it, you can still enjoy the story. I don’t know how many episodes I watched of Lost where I had no clue what was going on. Especially with all the time-travel this season and the early Dharma discoveries of season 2. But the storytelling was always so strong that I was OK being in the dark. The narrative was so compelling that I could set aside my confusion and get caught up in the characters and situations. Life is better when you can do that. We’re all living a story (thanks, Don Miller!) and there will be times when we have no idea what’s happening around us or where we’re headed. So we can press pause and get frustrated, and we can let the uncertainty stop us altogether. Or, we can relax and try to enjoy where we are and what’s happening and let it unfold.


3. Second chances are good. The castaways Jacob brought to the island — Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, Locke, Charlie, Sayid — were all broken and deeply flawed. The island gave them a chance to start over. Redemption and salvation are at the heart of the Christian story and were at the heart of Lost. Even the lying, manipulative Benjamin Linus got to start over fresh, and honorably, in his sideways timeline. I need that chance, too, and in admitting that I also need to realize that it’s my duty to offer others the chance to redeem themselves. 

4. People can remain surprisingly attractive, even after weeks and weeks of dirt, injury, chaos, and primitive living on an island. I’m just sayin.’


5. Faith and reason are a core human conflict, and always will be. After five years of playing up the central worldview battle between Jack (reason) and Locke (faith), the creators flipped it in this final season and, ultimately, Jack won out as a man of faith. If only because Locke died and turned into deadly smoke. But anyway, my biggest internal conflict is the faith/logic, belief/science one, and I figure it’ll always be that way this side of the final fade-to-black. See #1 and #2.

6. Even the best things will disappoint you. Despite six years of awesomeness, Lost was capable of some real clunkers, from weird plot twists (Nikki and Paulo, the glowy island center) to dropped storylines (Walt, and that whole season 1 to-do about the dangerous future of Claire’s son, Aaron) to whole episodes (that Bai Ling one about Jack’s tattoos). No one is perfect. That’s why we need redemption. But stunt casting doesn’t help much, and I’m talking to you, whoever hired Allison Janney to play the island’s mama.


7. It’s good to keep the end in sight. The best move the producers of Lost ever made was the decision to set an end date for the series. Had they not done that, I think they would have struggled against the tendency to keep introducing questions and plot circles and weird islandy juju and never fully wrap things up. The series would have gotten bloated with mystery — and not the important kind of mystery. Lost could easily have wasted a lot of time on fluffery, but a pre-determined series end made it consider of each piece of the story in the most economical terms. How important is this scene or idea? Does this contribute to the overall plan? Does it drive the plot forward and in the direction we want it to go? If the answer to any of those questions was NO, then I imagine the fat got cut out. A limited amount of time means simplicity. It means placing greater value on certain things and then sticking to that decision.


How much more meaningful would my life be if I lived it with my eyes on the “final episode,” so to speak? I would waste a lot less time. I’d make the most of every conversation, event, and relationship. I would pursue the most important story lines and ignore the stupid things. I would pay attention to the things that matter — like family and friends and love and justice. My life, thankfully, doesn’t have a set expiration date. But I know there’s one coming. And the best life is one lived with that end point in mind.

8. Nobody does it alone. So true.


Thanks, Lost. I spent a lot of time with you. I’m glad it hasn’t been wasted.

Your turn. What has Lost taught you?

Comments read comments(18)
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posted May 24, 2010 at 7:54 am

I thought the finale lived up perfectly to the show’s reputation, as one long, drawn-out, cliff-hanger that kept people coming back for more despite a cohesive plot or story line. The finale was one big jumble of nonsense, just like the entire series was. Sure, the characters are enduring but the show was a big hoax, with promises of answers to wild concepts that not even the most genius of physicists can answer. I suppose that it was easy for these writers to swindle idiot masses to keep watching as the plots became more and more absurd. After all, the audience already had so much invested, they couldn’t stop watching. It’s like the financial bubble of television shows that finally burst last night and left everyone empty handed. Or like the wizard of oz, at the end of the day it was all a facade with a little man behind a fancy curtain. I challenge anyone to explain the entire premise, lessons and purpose of the show. It’s impossible, unless done in an overly simplistic way that negates most of the details of the show. It’s utterly mind-numbing and pointless. For anyone with even the slightest of philosophical minds, this show is enough to make one hurl. It was all a bunch of writers, dappling in broad ideas, pontificating on for 6 seasons in a way that convinced audiences that it actually had something to share with the world. No, don’t be fooled, you’re better off reading the works of Locke, Rousseau, Benthum, Bakunin, Thomas Carlyle, Edmund Burke, and Hume, or what of scientist Michael Faraday? Lost turned all of it into a farce and served to stifle any real debate or creativity.

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bryan a

posted May 24, 2010 at 9:22 am

i agree with Danielle’s first 11 words, but disagree completely with everything after that.
Much like the entire series, the finale was amazing. On their own, most episodes were brilliant little stories, and put together the whole show was smarter, more clever, and more emotional than any story I’ve ever experienced.
bravo to the creators, writers, actors, and everyone else who helped create such a mind-blowing, soul-resonating show.

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Jason Boyett

posted May 24, 2010 at 9:50 am

I’ll agree with Danielle that you’re probably better off reading science or philosophy than watching television — ANY television — but I should probably add that I’d find it hard to relate to someone who says, “Watch the Lost finale? No thanks, I’m going to be reading some David Hume.”
Especially if, in the process, they called me an idiot. Thanks for stopping by, Danielle, but there are plenty of ways to critique a show without resorting to arrogance and intellectual snobbery.

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posted May 24, 2010 at 10:51 am

I like to save all of my intellectual snobbery for people who watch American Idol.
Never got into Lost, but will almost certainly go back and pick it up on Netflix once the final season is available. I find watching shows after the fact is deeply satisfying, since I don’t have to wait. I hate waiting.

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posted May 24, 2010 at 11:12 am

Confusion? I stumbled into Lost in the middle of the second (?) season. Hubby kept watching it (i thought it a reality show at first & couldn’t understand what was drawing him). Also my memory isn’t all that good & so keeping track of it all made my head hurt.
I enjoyed the show, however. I think it was real in a lot of ways, especially how we misunderstand & hurt each other.
Ben Linus was the one i struggle with the most. I understood some of what was going on with him – an unsympathetic, drunken father & all – but his choices simply baffled me. He’s someone i’d like to sit down with & have him explain the “why” of what he did – except i doubt i’d ever be able to trust/believe a single thing he said.
I don’t know that i feel i’ve “learned” from Lost, & i’m certainly confused. I guess, in most things including the Bible & other books i read, movies & TV, i take things largely at face value & don’t read into them. Lost is difficult to take at face value ’cause the faces keep changing.
I enjoyed it anyway, tho.

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Shannon @SonUptoSonDown

posted May 24, 2010 at 11:15 am

I loved this finale.And I think that whether or not people were satisfied with it boiled down to one question: Are you a man of science or a man of faith?
In my opinion the two most important concepts over the entire series have been faith and redemption. The show grapples with the concept of good and evil and not just in a general good guy bad guy kind of way. It’s more that each person had both good and bad within them and was struggling to find faith or to be redeemed for the bad things that they had done. And when it was all said and done the faith won out, the sinners were redeemed, and hope is what was left. And I don’t think anything that ends in faith and hope can be sad or trite or disappointing.
So what I learned from Lost is that sometimes you just have to have faith and that makes all the difference.
“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” -Anais Nin

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Jason Vana

posted May 24, 2010 at 11:15 am

I have to admit that I was never an avid follower of LOST, especially when it aired on Wednesday nights, as I was always busy at that time. But there were a few things from the few episodes I did watch, and the finale last night, that really stuck out to me:
1. You don’t need to have all the answers to enjoy the story. Sometimes it is just enough to get caught up in the mystery of life.
2. The most important thing you can do with your life is build relationships. By far my favorite quotes from last night were: “The most important thing you did with your life was spend time with them” and (I know this is a horrible paraphrase as I can’t remember the exact quote) “You didn’t do it alone. They needed you and you needed them”.
3. Sometimes it’s the least likely people who will surprise you.
All in all, a great series finale. Now to go back and watch the rest of the 6 seasons…

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posted May 24, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Yep, I’m in the group of “never watched it.” Some of these comparisons, though, are fun to watch.
Next up: all the 24 comparison posts. :>)
-Marshall Jones Jr.

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Jason Boyett

posted May 24, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Don’t expect a “What I’ve Learned from Watching 24″ post tomorrow. Because I’ve learned pretty much just one thing from that show:
1. How to suspend disbelief.

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posted May 24, 2010 at 1:04 pm

It taught me to believe the writers when they say it’s a character-driven story…

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New Times

posted May 24, 2010 at 1:28 pm

I think it shows how difference we are if you learned something from LOST and we just made lists of the people we’d like to banish to the island.
Check it out:

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posted May 24, 2010 at 3:14 pm

I’m not a LOST fan yet. After watching two episodes a few years ago I was so enraged with confusion that I decided to wait until the series was over and watch it straight through on DVD.
Great points and I especially like the application of keeping the last episode of your life in view.

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Jeffrey Holton

posted May 24, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Ah, I’m lucky that Tammy Hodge already published my list in February. Honestly, even after last night, it hasn’t changed much at all…

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posted May 24, 2010 at 4:55 pm

How many times during the six seasons did someone give their life to save others? (Now sometimes they didn’t die, but they thought they were going to). And these folks were flawed big time. I love the redemption theme and the “no greater love than to lay down their life for another” thread that ran through the whole series

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posted May 24, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Love the show, not so keen on the finale. It seemed preachy to me, in a way that was more obvious than during the whole run of the show. My take is at:

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Headless Unicorn Guy

posted May 25, 2010 at 10:21 am

Had they not done that, I think they would have struggled against the tendency to keep introducing questions and plot circles and weird islandy juju and never fully wrap things up.
AKA Twin Peaks meets Gilligan’s Island

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posted May 26, 2010 at 3:50 pm

What Lost has taught me is:
Never Invest in a TV Show Again!
I spent 6 years squinting over screen caps, deciphering everything from DHARMA logos to black and white stones to Hieroglyphics. And for what? To find out that none of that mattered. They were all fake clues just to keep us coming back for more and to get us to buy their stuff … from DVDs to games to clothes to posters and dolls.
Sigh …

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