Monday, May 4, 2009

Lost as Ritual

Most people see only the small picture. Even when they think that is not the case, because really, most people won’t say that they only see the small picture, because it doesn’t sound complimentary. However, it is an accurate way of describing life, day to day. It is how human beings develop normally. Our day to day existence preoccupies us, and most people don’t look beyond it.

In order to truly be able to see any kind of BIG picture, you need a lead, someone to bring you along and initiate you. The reason being, is that with rare exception, you can’t find the big picture alone. It’s invisible. You can’t see the forest for the trees, oftentimes because you need help to get that full view. Initiation and Ritual are means to show that big picture. Now, today, mostly, these things are trivial. They lead to nothing more than people feeling special because they are part of a group. Often it’s used as an ego boost, to make individuals feel like because they belong to said group, they are better than others who do not belong. This is the draw of the secret society, or the religious group. The rituals are banal, and there is not concept of a big picture.

Lost. The TV Show, however, works as an analogy to this. The show starts small and ends big. At the start, there is no real hint of where the story will be a couple seasons down the road. You’re only seeing the trees. As the story evolves you learn new perspectives and new ideas, and eventually you realize that where you started was just a small tree. It is so rare to see something like this on a popular television show. Such media has always been relegated to short attention spans, but over the last decade or so, more shows have worked on this idea, but none with the ritualistic perfection of Lost. What so many people do not understand, is that you can’t skip to the end. Just like you can’t pick random episodes of Lost and understand them, true initiation, true ritual, prepares you to understand bigger concepts. Concepts that you can’t just skip to the point and understand, concepts that require those steps, because they ARE the initiation. Thus Lost becomes a symbol of what has been lost in our world. The big picture. Shamans and wise men who can really initiate someone into the bigger picture, are few and far in between any more. Wisdom isn’t dispensed like belts in Karate. Wisdom is absorbed and becomes a part of who you are. There are no awards or grades or certificates of Wisdom. There are no titles. In the end, seeing the big picture, comes only to the wise, who can not directly impart this to the people still lost in the trees. The gap is too big, and the road not seemingly relevant to day to day life. It is not something that can be labeled.

So to most, Lost is the closest they will come to understanding how that works. They may not realize it, but it’s there. Lost doesn’t just tell a story, it initiates you, it works in a ritualistic fashion to reveal the many secrets the story possesses. Secrets that would make no sense from watching just the first few episodes. And just like a true teacher, it brings up more questions than it answers. Of course, in our world, obsessed with gratification as it is, that can aggravate people. Questions are the key, being able to ask questions is key. Earning the answers makes them mean something.