Hindsight’s 50/50: You Choose to Either Focus on the Positive or the Negative Memories

No, I didn’t mean to say “20/20”.

It’s easy to look back at when life was a bit easier (AKA “the good ole days”) and compare it to now.  There’s a 50% chance that life seemed better a year ago, two years ago, or five years ago.  But, there’s also a good chance (let’s say 80%) if that’s the case, that you’re choosing to focus on the best parts of that time in your life, and for the most part, forgetting about the tough parts.  Hindsight’s 50/50 because you either romantically focus on the ideal parts of the past, making your present life the short straw compared to it, or, you don’t, and instead make an effort to choose the bad parts of that ideal year too.

In a sense, everything in life can be broken down to the statistical chance of 50/50.  Either you will get that one thing in life you’ve always wanted, or you won’t.  Either you win the lottery, or you won’t.   Either you will live to be 100, or you won’t.  One of the few events in life that can’t be assigned the 50/50 status is whether or not you will die at some point; No matter what the percent chance is how you leave this world: by cancer, by car accident, by heart attack, etc.

Last night I watched the final episode of Lost again.  One of the most memorable scenes for me was when the protagonist, Jack Shephard, technically in a flash-forward of the future after he had already died, meets his father in the afterlife.  “I died too,” Jack says to his father.  His father reassures him with a smile, “It’s okay, son… Everybody dies sometime, kiddo.  Some of them before you, some of them long after you.”

Whether you ever watched Lost or not, I’m not giving away anything by telling you what happened in the last scene. Because really, for any TV show or movie, ultimately everyone does die- it’s just that that’s never included in the episode.  Does Marley die at the end of Marley and Me? Whether he does or doesn’t die at the end, he still has to die sometime.  But it’s when a protagonist’s death is included in the script that we are forced to be reminded that beyond each “good time” and “bad time” in our lives, there ultimately is a bigger picture.

We have to choose to focus and dwell on the good parts of life now in this moment.  Otherwise, we end up psychologically living in the past when things appeared to be better than they are now, or we live in the future when things will hopefully be better, which is again focusing on a potentially imaginary life.  Because at this point, the glorious past and the perfect future are both impossible now.  The only thing possible is what is happening right this minute.

Hindsight really is 50/50.

Here is the final scene of Lost; the conversation between Jack Shephard and his father:

If you enjoyed this post, there is a 50% chance that you will also like these ones too:

The Good Ole Days: Past, Present, or Future?

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Sounds Like Someone’s Got a Case of the What If’s?

LOST- Answering Questions that Were Left Unanswered When It Ended

LOST lives on!

The writers of LOST are getting exactly what the want- for their fans to continue discussion about what really happened in the finale and to give each other reasonable explanations for all the show’s mysteries.  Here’s my attempt at answering a bundle of popular questions.

“So did everyone who crashed on the plane died in 2004, and that’s why they were all in purgatory (“the holy lobby”) together at the same time?”  No.  Each character died at whatever point they died in real life.  Charlie drowned in 2004.  Jack was stabbed to death in 2007.  At some point later, as the island’s protectors, Hurley and Ben eventually died- whether they were murdered or died of old age, in who knows what year. 

Everybody at some point died, (like we all eventually will) but not because of the plane crash in the first episode.  Because the afterlife is not restricted by time, they all met up at the same time in purgatory (the waiting time before they go to Heaven) before entering Heaven together.  So all people arrive in the afterlife at the same time, essentially, since time doesn’t exist in the afterlife.  For more explanations of the finale, read this: LOST Recap: Finale- “The End”.

“Did Ben not go to Heaven?”  He did go to Heaven.  Eventually, maybe even ten minutes after everyone else.  But he wasn’t ready to enter when the rest of them were.  He didn’t feel worthy because of all the bad things he did in his life- he had trouble accepting the fact he was worthy.  But ultimately he redeemed himself by protecting the island post 2007 when he became the #2 to Hurley.

“How was Jacob able to leave the Island?”  Jacob was never really confined by the limitations of the past. 

“What did it mean to be “special”?”  This is referring to seasons 1 and 2, regarding the children.  They were special because they were children.  Since it was impossible for babies to be born after the bomb exploded in 1977, the Others (Ben, Juliet, etc.) wanted to raise them as their own, hoping they would eventually forget the ways of the world they were born into.

 “Why did Ben and Widmore hate each other and want to kill each other’s daughters?”  They got in each other’s way since they were both strong-willed men who were very focused on what they wanted out of the island.  Ben wanted to please Jacob.  Widmore wanted to make money of the island’s electromagnetic properties.  So when Widmore indirectly killed Alex, Ben wanted revenge by killing Penny.

“What was the Smoke Monster, and why no name?”  The Smoke Monster was a manifesto of the evil that was held inside the island by that plug.  I’ve heard that in the season six DVD’s, we will learn that the Man in Black’s name was Samuel.  But ultimately, the fact that he didn’t have a name just made us more intrigued by the mystery of it all. 

“Who was on the island before “Mother” and the twins?”  Other random people just like them.  They weren’t important since they were before Jacob and The Man in Black and had not contact with Jack Shephard, whose human life the show was based around.

“Is it really an island or a “cork” to guard the door between Heaven and hell?”  Not between Heaven and hell.  But between hell and Earth.

“What was the deal with the numbers? Just Hurley’s curse or did they have some importance overall?”  It was just Hurley’s curse- just a very interesting part of his life.  Some people’s lives are filled with peculiar coincidences.  Even the flight gates were these numbers, Jacob couldn’t have planned all the number coincidences.

“Was Jacob’s cabin built to contain the Smoke Monster? The ring of ash around it?”  Absolutely.  It was an attempted trap to contain him.  The holy ashes prevented him from crossing- we’ll never know why.

“Why did people “see” Walt after he left the Island?”  The Smoke Monster scanned the memories of people and would use those images as library of people to appear as.

“Where did Michael the Russian come from? And how did he know Korean? “  He seemed to have military experience, which would explain his ability to speak multiple languages, especially because of Russia’s proximity to Korea.  The Others hired him at some point based on his useful credentials.

“Who was Henry Gale that parachuted onto the Island?”  A random, unlucky guy who for some reason ended up there like the rest of them.

“In Jacob’s cabin, who said “Help Me” to Locke? And Ben couldn’t hear it.”  That was Jacob trying to recruit Locke as a candidate, but Jacob didn’t want to recruit Ben.

“Who was Dharma and were they important? Were their experiments important? ” They were a group of scientist who came to the island to explore the capabilities of the island and its mysterious electromagnetism, which obviously healed people of cancer and caused the crippled to walk.

 “Who built the 4-toed statue?”  An ancient people group a long time ago, possibly the first to inhabit the island- one of which may have become the very first protector of the island.  Maybe centuries before Jacob was born circa 10 A.D.

“Libby used to be crazy and was in the institution with Hurley. Then she was fine and sold Desmond her boat?”  She was unstable- she was absolutely crazy at times, then at others, seemed perfectly normal.  The craziness was taking over her normal life.

Got more LOST questions?  I’m ready to tackle them.  Just leave them in the form of a comment.  Thanks.

Real Life Thoughts on Death and the Afterlife

 What if I was wrong this whole time?

At the times of my life where I have doubts about my faith, by default, a few things come to mind which always bring me back to security.  After all, it’s not so difficult to get distracted with thoughts like, “with all the different religions in the world, only one can be right…how do I know I picked the right one?” 

I instantly remind myself that Christianity is the only religion where a person can not be a good enough of person on their own to earn eternal life: Aside from doing “good works” (helping those in need) a person has to become humble enough to rely on the grace of God to save them, through faith. 

Both necessary elements of salvation (good works and God’s grace) are based in love.  Our love for all other people (which reflects our love for God) and God’s love for us. 

If nothing else, the fact that Christianity is the only major religion in the world that requires love for it to work, that’s enough for me: We love God by loving other people; He loves us by showing us grace (undeserved blessings). 

And while it may seem New Age, or like a medieval fairy tale, or even an idea as “out there” as something from the show LOST, I can’t deny that it’s impossible not to think about what happens when we die.  Especially when someone in real life, that I know personally, dies. 

I don’t see how a person could go to a funeral and not seriously question what will happen when they themselves die.  It takes so much faith to say, “I belief when we die, we die” or “I’m a pretty good person, if there’s a heaven or an afterlife, I think I’ll make it”.  I don’t have enough faith to say that.

And since I have less faith, I instead believe in Christianity.  Because for me, it takes a lot of pressure off of me.  My good works aren’t the cause of my salvation; they’re the proof of it.  The rest, God’s has already taken care and is taking care of and will always take care of.

Worst case scenario: I’m wrong.  I live my entire life under the belief that a sinless Jewish man over 2,000 years ago somehow took on all the wrongdoings of every person in the world’s past and future by allowing Himself to die so that He could live with them in eternity, then came back to life to tell us to let everyone know that He loves them and that we should love others through our actions. 

So I spend time studying an ancient holy book written by a bunch of (mainly) Jews, memorizing the highlights of it that stick out the most to me.  And instead of by instinct worrying about things I can’t control (like trying to sell my house), I pray about them in the best faith I have, knowing that God will be glorified through it. 

And by doing my best to follow the teachings of that ancient book, I end up staying out of trouble, for the most part.  I eventually die and at my funeral people say that I was a good person and that I loved the Lord.

But in this worst case scenario, let’s say I was wrong about it all.  Let’s say that this life really is all there is- so I die and that’s it.  I have no consciousness or memory; I exist no more.  Like I was never born.

That worst case scenario is a risk I’m willing to take.

But aside from me thinking that Christianity is the best fit for me compared to other religions, aside from the fact that death itself makes me think about what happens when I die, there is the fact that life itself points me to a Creator. 

And if there is a Creator who took the creative thought and the time to invent the universe and the people in it, there I want to know who He is.  And if I know who He is, I want Him to like me.  And if I want Him to like me, I’m gonna find a way to do it.

So I did.  And ultimately, all those “God-given” thoughts led me to becoming a Christian. 

Christianity in a nut shell:

Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, not that of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one may boast. (Shows the importance of being humble enough through faith to accept God’s love for us through the sacrifice of Jesus.)

 Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared behforehand so that we would walk in them.”  (Shows the importance of our love for other people through our good works, which mirrors God’s love for us and is proof that we love God.)

LOST Recap: Finale- “The End”

I loved it.  Absolutely.  And I believe it was the best, and really, only way, to end the show.  But it just took me 24 hours after watching to understand why.

The entire show was just about Jack Shephard.  Everything else, including the island and its ability to heal people and time travel, the Smoke Monster, the Dharma Initiative, the Others, Jack’s friends, Jack’s enemies, the light in the cave… All of it were the parts of Jack’s life that ultimately mattered to his existence.

In the likeness of the movie Vanilla Sky, when you’re dead, it’s all over- so why focus on the character’s earthly life after they die?  But the writers of LOST took that concept to a new level by acknowledging that all the mysteries, actions, heartaches, and triumphs all boil down to one thing- the people that were involved in your life.

Even Vincent the dog’s best purpose on the island was to comfort Jack as he died.

I definitely plan to write much more in the near future answering the remaining questions about LOST: Why was The Man in Black never given a name?  Who was the first protector of the island?  Did it really matter that Desmond and/or Locke typed the code every 108 minutes?  What was really accomplished by Juliet sacrificing her life by detonating the bomb in 1977?

But as for today, I think it’s more important to focus exactly what happened in the finale.  The most begging question is what’s up with the flash-sideways?

The first time we saw the characters of LOST in the finale season, they were on the plane.  Note there were never flash-forwards or flash-backs during the flash-sideways, indicating no past or future in that timeline.  They weren’t reincarnated, having to live their lives all over again, in this version with the island being sunk.  The alt-reality was simply an “acknowledge your dead and that your life mattered” precursor to the afterlife, often referred to as “purgatory” or “the waiting room”; it started with the plane ride.

Keeping in mind that life on the island (and “the real world”) continued after Jack died, that Hurley and Ben served as the island’s protectors for the rest of their lives, that Claire, Kate, Sawyer, Richard, Miles, and Frank all left the island and lived normal lives back in the United States or wherever they chose to re-establish their lives… they all still died at some point.  Most of them of old age, living to be in their 70’s.

And once they died, before going to Heaven, they were reunited, having the blessing remembering how they mattered to each other.  And since time, in essence, doesn’t exist in the afterlife, they all met at the same time, since it didn’t matter that Jack died 40 years before most of them did.

But because Jack was the main character of the show, the show stopped with his earthly death.  The rest of the living characters lived their rest of their lives and eventually died, the show just didn’t continue to follow their earthly lives.

So when Jack died in 2007 (three years after originally crashing on the island), and (say, for example) that Kate died in 2051, they met at the same time in “the waiting room”.  (Because time doesn’t exist after earthly life ends.)  Then they went on to Heaven with the rest in the church.  (And Ben went once he was ready.)

The writers were clever to utilize a nearly universal belief that there is some sort of life after death.  The episode was quite saturated in Christianity (which was a smart idea since most of America identifies with some version of it), yet didn’t write off other popular international religious beliefs, thanks to the “major six religions of the world” stained glass window in the church.  The point wasn’t to depict any religion’s specific teaching on the afterlife as specifically accurate, but to instead play and expound on our perceived general ideas on life after death and the importance of the people in our lifetime after we die.

I don’t see how LOST could have ended any other way.  Yes, technically “all our questions” were not answered.  But it involves using our imaginations and clues from the show to fill in the blanks, as we as Losties have been doing the whole time.  It will bring me much joy to take matters into my own hands by filling in these blanks with many more LOST posts to come.

Comments welcome.

(They will most likely be spun off into a new post if they are interesting, insightful, or raise a good question; or instantly deleted if they are full of nerd spite: “NO!  You’re wrong!  What really happened was…  Looks like you never thought of that while trying to make your weak point, did you?…”).

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/37320802/ns/today-entertainment/

The Ethnic Backgrounds of the Cast of LOST

Italians?  Check.  French?  Check.  Koreans?  Check.  Jews?  Oddly, not so much.

When the creators of LOST were in the casting process, they knew they wanted an “international cast”.  Well done.  Who wants to see another show with a bunch of white people and one African-American thrown in for good measure?

The ethnic diversity on the show adds so much to the characterization and even their storylines.  I have gone through the painstaking process (for most, but for me was a lot of fun!) of searching and studying the ethnicity of the entire cast of LOST.  While I won’t bombard my fellow Losties with every single cast member ever, I will feature most of them.  The phrase in (parenthesis) tells where the actor was raised.

Matthew Fox as “Jack Shephard”: Italian-English (America)

Evangeline Lilly as “Kate Austen”: English (Canada)

Josh Holloway as “James ‘Sawyer’ Ford”: Scottish (America); rare in that he is one of the few Southerners on the show- from Georgia in real life, on the show he was born in Jasper, Alabama

Jorge Garcia as “Hugo ‘Hurley” Reyes”: Chilean-Cuban (America)

Naveen Andrews as “Sayid Jarrah”: Indian (England)

Daniel Dae Kim as “Jin-Soo Kwon”: Korean (America)

Yunjin Kim as “Sun-Hwa Kwon”: Korean (America)

Terry O’Quinn as “John Locke”: Irish (America)

Dominic Monaghan as “Charlie Pace”: English-Irish (Germany); he speaks both  English and German

Michael Emerson as “Benjamin Linus”: English (America)

Emilie de Ravin as “Claire Litteton”: French (Australia)

Henry Ian Cusick as “Desmond Hume”: Scottish-Peruvian (both Scotland and Peru)

Sonya Walger as “Penny Widmore”: Argentinean-English (England)

*oddly, married couple “Desmond and Penny” are both in real life half British, half South American

Alan Dale as “Charles Widmore”: New Zealander (New Zealand)

Ken Leung as “Miles Straume”: Chinese (America)

Francois Chau as “Dr. Pierre Chang”: Cambodian-American-Chinese-Vietnamese (America); random fact- he played “Shredder” in the movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze

Andewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as “Mr. Eko”: Nigerian (England)

Nestor Carbonell as “Richard Alpert”: Cuban-Spanish (America)

Elizabeth Mitchell as “Dr. Juliet Burke”: English (America); another rare Southerner (from Dallas, TX)

Jeff Fahey as “Frank Lapidus”: Irish (America); though his character his Greek-American

Cynthia Watros as “Libby Smith”: Greek or Czech (America)

Michelle Rodriguez as “Ana Lucia Cortez”: Puerto Rican-Dominican Republican (America)

Tania Raymonde (Katz) as “Alex”: Jewish (America)

Mira Fulan as “Danielle Rousseau”: Jewish (Croatia)

Katy Sagal as “Helen Norwood”: Jewish (America); played Locke’s love interest, also known as “Peg” on Married with Children

Titus Welliver as “Man in Black (Esau): Irish  (America);  though he looks like Billy Joel, who is Jewish

Mark Pellegrino as “Jacob”: Italian (America)

Since Jews only make up 1.7% of the American population, the three confirmed Jewish actors on LOST accurately and proportionately represent themselves in the large number of actors on the show.  And that’s rare.

Of course, as usual, in the strange case there are no Jews or hardly any Jews on a show or movie (like Family Matters or Family Ties), the producers and/or writers are Jewish.  So it goes without saying, that in fact, LOST creators J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof are both Jewish.  Along with Jeffrey Lieber (who most likely is based on his name and physical appearance).  Same thing with LOST writer Adam Horowitz.

It’s safe to say that LOST truly has the most international, most diverse cast of any show in American history.  We as Losties have invested years of our lives in these characters.  They’ve become like real people to us.  I’m so glad this show is made up of such a randomly planned cast of characters and actors.

Read more about the astonishing number of Jewish actors in American film: The Funny Thing about Jews

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on this, why not read my perspective on being a dad?  That’s right- parenting from a dad’s point of view.  I have been documenting my thoughts as a dad since the week we found out my wife was pregnant.  I formally invite you now to read my “dad blog” by clicking on the link below:

dad from day one