Lost in "LOST"

In August of last year, my husband Mark and I pulled the first season of the TV show “Lost” off our DVD shelf. It had entered our lives via Ashley  --  a sweet, but unreliable babysitter we’d had a few summers ago  --  who thought we might like it and had brought it over for us to check out.   The set of DVDs became marooned on our media bookcase when she inexplicably stopped coming (and answering texts) one day.

So, with our three-year-old asleep (and both of us surprisingly still awake and alert one late summer night), we launched into the world of Lost.  (Let me note for the record here that, yes, I know we are behind the times and most of the world was into Lost for the last several years.   We were apparently TiVoblivious; before starting to watch it, Mark and I both were under the impression that Lost was some kind of reality show.)

We’d heard it was a well-done series, but had no idea it would be as engrossing and addictive as it turned out to be.  The characters and their world came to life as we devoured each episode, often two or three at a time.   I found myself thinking about the show as I went about my daily tasks, wondering at the wackier supernatural aspects of the plot and trying to weave together clues from different episodes in order to guess what was really going on with the ever more-complex plotlines.
 
We found ourselves keeping our obsession with the show private.   It was too risky to mention socially, lest someone spoil the ending for us and wreck our delicious evening ritual.

The end came, as it does.  We watched the final episode last week, and though it was fairly satisfying, I feel empty, as if part of me is missing.

And this is why stories matter.

When we allow ourselves to be drawn into a good story, there’s a type of surrender that takes place.   Like falling asleep or falling in love, we suspend practical concerns and fall into another world, where different things happen and different characters ask us to understand new points of view.    When stories drift into the fantastic or a medium is limited, there’s a term -- suspension of disbelief -- for the leap that we’re asked to take in order to fully immerse ourselves in a narrative experience.

I believe it’s this suspension of disbelief that moves us to write and read and lose ourselves in great stories.

Children are champs at losing themselves in fantasy.  They play-act all the time -- pretending and imagining are a natural part of their daily reality.   I listen to our daughter Daisy as she plays with her mermaid Barbies and beloved stuffed “froggies,” hearing echoes of our real life interwoven with increasingly fantastic plots and dialogues.   She’ll circle around the same topic a number of times when trying to understand a new concept or work something out.

Teens are often admonished for forays into fantasy.  We’re pulled -- kicking and screaming -- from the rich, dramatic narratives of music, complex video games, gossip, and young love.  Instead, we’re ordered to get our heads out of the clouds, return to earth, buckle down and get serious.   Most of us heed this sensible advice eventually, and in the process, discard one of our most instinctual methods of sorting out life’s puzzle pieces.

And so by the time most of us reach adulthood, our fantasy/imaginative lives have been stripped to exercises of the ego or libido.  We look for drama in our friendships and marriages -- sometimes finding it when it isn’t even there -- and create narratives about the rhythms in our workplace or neighborhood stops.

But the lucky ones among us regularly find rich escape each time we allow ourselves to suspend belief and fall into a story.   We travel across time and place, we meet new people, we inhabit the minds of animals or inanimate objects. We see ourselves in characters, we recognize similar dynamics in their lives, we note the paths they take in trying to resolve conflict and find love and fortune.  Story serves as the surrogate for the playful parts of imagination that drift from us as we get older and ‘wiser.’

Today I reach out across the worlds of all the characters with whom I have laughed and cried, winced and willed great things.   For those I’ve been lucky enough to have loved, and grieved in this odd way, I thank all the authors and the inspiration and the discipline and energy that brings them to life.   I am forever grateful to you for the hours of escape, excitement, and adventure.

Here’s to getting Lost, over and over again.

3 comments

  • Neetshappenings

    Neetshappenings

    love it! Keep writing..you are inspiring.

    love it!
    Keep writing..you are inspiring.

  • Neetshappenings

    Neetshappenings

    Keep writing MB...you are an inspiration.

    Keep writing MB...you are an inspiration.

  • Brianna Sommerlad

    Brianna Sommerlad

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All content © 2018 Mary Beth Maziarz, Mystical Universe Music / Musaic Records. P.O. Box 4093, Park City UT 84060.  To book a show, email us HERE