It’s been 330 days since “Lost” ended. Three hundred and thirty days since Jack shut his right eyelid, rolling the closing credits on the six-year odyssey that was at once invigorating, irritating, heart-wrenching and hilarious. To say I merely miss the show would be a vile understatement — life without “Lost” feels incomplete, like Rose without Bernard, Sayid without his badassery and Richard Alpert without his eyeliner.
Truthfully, I didn’t always feel this nostalgic about “Lost.” When the show was nearing its conclusion, it was clear that two camps were forming among its viewers: those who were infuriated by the show’s resolutions of several series-long mysteries, and those who accepted the answers with content — and I was firmly footed in the former.
Throughout its run, I was as devoted a “Lost” fan as one could be, but my adoration began to crumble after the series’s antepenultimate episode, “Across the Sea.” It was supposed to be the tell-all, a revelatory hour that would give light to the most burning of mysteries, including the origins of Jacob, the time travel-inducing frozen wheel doo-hickey and the pillar of smoke endearingly dubbed the “Smoke Monster.”
The explanations came, but they were as disappointing as getting a can of Dharma Initiative-branded garbanzo beans for your birthday — everything was chalked up as “the island has magical properties,” and that was the end of that. I felt cheated and betrayed, shot in the chest by Michael Dawson while I was getting blankets for my hot date with Hurley. The grand riddles of “Lost” were not riddles at all, just lazy storytelling by some bum writers who had been pulling our tails for the past six years. It was disillusionment more than anger, the sadness you get as a kid when the myth of Santa Claus is discovered. The incredible twists and turns of the “Lost” narrative had seemed too good to be true, and they were.
But now I’ve had 330 days to reflect upon “Lost” and its legacy, and the question beckons — was it really ever about the mysteries?
At the end of his seven-book series, “The Dark Tower,” which was released over a period of 22 years and sprawled over thousands of pages, Stephen King knew his readers would be furious about the conclusion (they were) so he wrote a note arguing that it wasn’t the destination that mattered, but the journey. And the journey of “Lost” was glorious.
It doesn’t matter whether the Smoke Monster came from magic, nanotechnology or Leslie Arzt’s charred remains — the creature scared the living bejesus out of the show’s plane-crash survivors, forcing them to band together and eventually exposing some of the most marvelous character developments and relationships in modern fiction.
Benjamin Linus grew from murderous Machiavellian to tragic figure yearning for meaning and redemption (see his tearful breakdown in season six’s “Dr. Linus”). Desmond and Penny’s legendary love story transcended notions of time and space (the phone call from season four’s “The Constant”). And Sawyer matured from a semi-racist rascal to an adorable romantic and courageous leader (remember the look on his face when he came home to Juliet in season five’s “LaFleur”?)
I began to realize how important the show had been to my life. The ritual of watching “Lost” kept me tight with my family during high school — a time when I was constantly occupied with AP classes, extracurricular activities (read: résumé padders) and thinking about colleges. Every night “Lost” was on, though, my family and I would drop everything, don our blankets (it gets cold in the U.P.) and watch “Lost” with a bowl of strawberries my dad had cut up for us.
Later, as I made the transition to college, “Lost” was my constant. Placed in the frozen tundra of Baits I, I made my best friends from freshman year by watching “Lost,” during bonding nights that featured Dum Dums and interjections from the awesome kid from Singapore who lived across the hall.
The show’s philosophical concepts have also deeply resonated with me. “Lost” taught me to “live together, die alone,” so now I try to live with the idea that it’s more important to put the needs of friends, family and the community over the needs of the self. I was also struck early on by John Locke’s iconic mantra, “everything happens for a reason,” which I’ve used to mentally power myself through difficult circumstances.
To bring everything full circle, I’ve realized how similar I am to the protagonist of “Lost,” Jack Shephard (not that I’m comparing myself to Matthew Fox, as that would be ridiculous — I’m clearly much more attractive). The most significant development in “Lost” was following Jack’s transformation from a man of science to a man of faith, much like I grew from a kid obsessed with believable logic and reason behind the mysteries of “Lost” to one who understood the grander goals the show accomplished.
It’s impossible for me to end this reminiscence with due significance. So instead, I’m going to hand it over to the lyrics of the awesome YouTube video “I’ll Never Be Lost Again:” “It’s just a show, but feels like losing a friend / Life goes on, but I’ll never be ‘Lost’ again.”
See you in another life, brotha.