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Spencer Spellman muses on mystery, risk, and ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Yep, it’s time to get Lost.

It’s been over a month now since the TV show Lost came to a close with its two and a half hour Season Six finale. Whereas lots of people claim Lost is one of the greatest television shows in history, many faithful viewers were angry at the ending. Some even went so far as to say they wanted the last six years of their life back!

These things aside, I believe that Lost changed the way most people will watch TV. All the mysteries and ambiguities were a big part of the show’s appeal, and the gut-wrenching season finales brought us viewers back year after year. So profound were these mysteries that thousands of websites, blogs and forums were devoted to answering viewers’ questions, as well as developing their own Lost conspiracy theories.

When we get to the end of our own days… there will be mysteries in our own lives that we can’t comprehend.

Regardless of how you feel about the finale, the show did raise many questions about science and faith, life and death, and everything else in between.

Here are four of the lessons I learned from watching Lost.

Travel to unknown places among unknown people takes our ordinary lives and makes them extraordinary

With the exception of a band member, the Oceanic 815 crash survivors were all ordinary people with ordinary vices. Yet these normal travelers all ended up doing extraordinary things that were uncharacteristic of their former lives. We saw kicked drug habits, self sacrifice for the sake of others, and love towards significant others that had not previously been expressed.

Photo by JP Puerta

I feel that travel abroad can have a similar effect, removing us from our comfortable existence and introducing us to a land and a people that are unfamiliar.

Although we may have extraordinary experiences during the trip itself, it’s often when we return home and notice how our world view has shifted that our life becomes more than ordinary.

If we live without taking any risks, have we really lived?

In The Magician’s Nephew, by CS Lewis, there is a poem that says,

Make your choice, adventurous Stranger;
Strike the bell and bide the danger,
Or wonder, ’til it drives you mad,
What would have followed if you had.

The characters from Lost took risks that left lasting marks on both their individual lives and the lives of everyone around them. Sure, they didn’t all produce the desired outcome… that’s why they are called risks!

At many points in our lives we might have to take risks with family, friends, love and careers. Yes, there might be unforeseen consequences, but I believe some risks are worth taking. I would much rather deal with the short-term consequences of taking a risk, and enjoy the long-term satisfaction of chasing my passions, than lie on my death bed wondering what might have been.

Photo by The B@man

Some Questions in Life Will Go Unanswered

Each week we loyal viewers returned to watch the new episode of Lost, hoping that some of our questions about the series would be answered. And each week, if a question did get answered, then even more questions arose.

It was no surprise that the finale didn’t answer all the remaining questions, and tie up all the loose ends. Did you really think it would?

When we each get to the end of our days, there are going to be questions left unanswered. Who shot Tupac? What happened to Amelia Earhart? There will be mysteries in our own lives that we can’t comprehend, questions of love and faith and why we did the things we did. But it’s the mysteries of life that make it such a ride. Without them, I believe existence would be much duller.

Live Together, Die Alone

It seems appropriate to end with Lost’s most used cliché. We first heard this very early in the show, when Jack was addressing the survivors of the plane crash, and it became a kind of mantra running all through the series. The importance of the sentiment was clear: if the survivors couldn’t learn to work together and get along, they wouldn’t make it and would die a lonely death.

Relationships are what bind us together as people. Life often sucks, but it sucks a whole lot worse when our relationships separate us rather than uniting us. We need people around us who can support, encourage and empower us. Without that, we could lead a very lonely and depressing existence. In “real life” as in Lost, it’s true that we either learn to live together, or die alone.


If you watched Lost, what did you think of it? Are there any lessons you feel you took from the show? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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About The Author

Spencer Spellman

Spencer is an aquarius and likes long walks on the beach. When he's not taking long walks on the beach, he's traversing the globe to find the best cocktail and a trail that is truly off-the-beaten path. He found one recently, and he'd tell you, but then it wouldn't be off-the-beaten-path any longer. He's on month 12 of a one-year project, a "30 at 30 List," in which he set out to do a timed bucket/life list. He's on #36. He got a D-minus in Math 101 and is an overachiever. Beginning in travel writing career as a writer and editor for a travel guide publisher, Spencer has spent the last few years freelancing, with his work having appeared in National Geographic's Intelligent Travel blog, Drink Me Magazine, AFAR Magazine, AOL Travel, and Expedia, where he currently serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the Expedia Viewfinder blog. Follow him on Twitter and at this blog, The Traveling Philosopher.

  • Abbie

    I’ve never even watched Lost, but this was really good anyway :)

  • Hal Amen

    Your third point is my main takeaway, which ties into another lesson: you can make a decent first season of a show and 5 more shit ones and still be one of the most popular programs ever.

    Nice reflections though, Spence.

  • Candice

    Funny Spencer, after reading your take on “some questions in life will go unanswered,” I feel a little differently about the finale. STILL would have been much happier if things wrapped up better but hey, that’s life. I guess.

  • Oliver

    Thats pretty interesting Spencer. Never got into Lost but I understand what you mean

  • Caz Makepeace

    I never watched an episode of Lost and reading this article again has made me feel like I missed out on something. I loved your reflections and I think you really spoke to the heart of travel really well. I can’t say anything for Lost but I could really relate to your travel comparisons.

  • Dan

    Word Hal Amen. Word. Though I would argue that it was 2 decent seasons and 4 fecal related ones…

  • Jessica Skelton

    Loved Lost (even the series finale). Great post – I really agree with “Some Questions in Life Will Go Unanswered.” I think on a whole, people cannot stomach this simple fact. Probably why so many people hated the ending.

  • Spencer Spellman

    Thanks for the comments everyone. Seeing comments here and talking to people on Twitter, the third point certainly has struck a chord. Going into the finale, I knew there was no way they could even begin to answer many of the people’s questions. It would’ve been simply inconsistent with their actions throughout the 6 seasons. So I was setup for that. The mystery seems to continue to linger even weeks after it’s been over, which I think is a lot of the allure and why people came back each week to watch it.

    So it is the same I believe in life. Would we be as satisfied if we had the answers of what we would be doing a year from now for example? Would it hold the same allure if so?

  • thomas

    I have been an obsessed fan of this miraculous show since it first aired September 22nd, 2004. I appreciate this article too much because these lessons, along with so many others, are exactly what I learned from watching Lost. The show has been such an inspiration for me that it has also played a part in me leaving my current living situation to go out and adventure the world through different volunteer oppurtunites. A first time journey that begins for me in the next couple weeks! I embrace how much of a dork I am when it comes to this show and I hope that people will embrace it for what it was! It’s like a really great book, with incredible life leesons to be learned. Life lessons full of polar bears, time-traveling hippy scientists and a wonderfully talented cast. GREAT ARTICLE, MAN!

  • LindaJ

    I totally agree with Spencer. This was more than a TV show, and expecting it to answer all the questions and tie it all into a nice little package for the series finale would have been boring and anticlimactic. I thought it was ground-breaking, creative and compelling, and I liked that the characters all had some commonality, being flawed, that was easy to relate to. It didn’t hurt that it was so bizarre it defied explanation, but for that reason it was easy to keep watching and for those who missed out, well, it was a really unique experience. I like the lessons you learned from LOST, Spencer, I hope I have learned them, or will at least attempt to keep learning them, as well.

  • sovi

    Polar Bears.. due to climate change, maybe now they more often feel heat…

  • Kirsten

    I can’t imagine a better crafted post on the genius and yet at times inherent frustration of LOST. Truly a well done metaphor for life on many levels. Great post Spence!

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