published Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Upton: Reflections on Losing “Lost”

Being a “Lost” fan from its very first episode six years ago, I prioritized the watching of its finale this past Sunday, arranging my schedule around it, watching part of it at home and most of it at a neighbor’s house where we snacked and enjoyed light banter during the commercial breaks.

I loved the idea of this mysterious island somewhere in the world that offered possibilities beyond the normal. Locke, a man formerly confined to a wheelchair regained the use of his legs on the island. Rose, a woman battling cancer, began to heal. Sun and Jin, a couple struggling in their marriage, regain love. There was adventure, danger, loss, and redemption in the series.

After intense analysis and lively discussions over the episodes with other fans, I waited with anticipation to discover all the answers to my questions. One commentary explained that the characters were in a sort of limbo after their deaths in the crash of Oceanic Flight 815 that allowed them to work through their pasts before moving on.

I had friends who had believed they were in some sort of purgatory all along, but the awareness of their past lives together still seemed to be in reverse. There were flashbacks, flash forwards, and flash sideways — something rarely depicted in television, causing the idea of reality to take on a murky quality. Which came first, their connections on the mainland or the afterlife of the island? Which reality was really real?

The non-linear nature of the show made many of my friends feel crazy — and they jokingly refused to watch it. Sometimes confusing and frustrating even to us die-hards, we hung on tightly as the story line twisted and turned, changed and evolved. It seemed the writers hadn’t made concrete ideas for the show early on. Instead they were having fun, being super-creative, making psychological leaps, and finding meaning along the way.

The show intrigued me, bothered me at times, yet pulled me in. There were elements of psychological thrill, spirituality, family relationships, science fiction, and fantasy all rolled into one. The murky revelations of the end however and the subsequent mixed emotions of the viewers shows us that we tend to want our closure. That’s what we’d waited for all these years. It’s what we all wait for.

Closure, so necessary to us emotionally, often frightens us. We don’t like the confrontation it often requires. We don’t know what we will feel when it’s over, and we aren’t always sure it will make things easier. We don’t feel ready to let go of what’s been so familiar. Without it, however, we may lack peace, that settled feeling of completeness that allows us to let one thing die so another can live. Closure involves acknowledging loss, change, and an uncertain future.  This pivotal point allows us to close a door and prepares us to open another. Without it we may linger, wondering what should happen next, unsure of when to move on or to keep looking back.

Closure was a central theme of Lost, as the characters sought to resolve the issues of their pasts. Their struggles mirrored our own inner struggles, questions, tangential choices, secrets. In the end, the focus became less about the clarity of every detail of the journey, and more about the redemptive power of love and relationships, and the courage to look behind to move ahead.

Tabi Upton, MA-lpc is a local therapist and founder of www.chattanoogacounselor.com, a self-help resource website. E-mail her at tabiupton@ bellsouth.net.

about Tabi Upton...

Tabi Upton, MA-LPC is a therapist at New Beginnings Counseling Center.

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