08 May 2012

Holding on or Letting Go?

I came onto the Lost fan train a little late.

By a little late I mean, oh, ten years or so?  I remember roommates watching it and friends talking about it but I never really took the time to figure out what all the hype was about.  I wasn't anti-Lost, I just was too busy to be bothered with another show to follow.  By the time I thought "well, maybe it would be worth my time", everyone said I'd be lost (literally) unless I started at the beginning and playing catch up didn't appeal enough to push me to action, so I stayed away.

Recently I've started watching.  (So help me, if you spoil anything for me, I will hunt you down.  I'm nearly done with season two.  As soon as school is out I'm sure I'll bulldoze through them all in a few weeks.)  It's a fascinating sort of show, isn't it?  For those of you who aren't familiar, the basic premise is that a group of people get stranded on and island after a plane crash.  The show uses flashbacks to the time before the island to help you get to know these people so you have a reference point to see if the island is a good thing for them or a danger to them.  I love the way the set up of the show gives everyone a clean slate - and then puts them back into the same situation they were in before the crash of the plane (more or less) to see if they can grow or not.  I love how ruthless the show is in terms of things being fair or unfair.  I've enjoyed watching the show expand from a glorified Survivor episode into something much grander and more mythological.

One of the episodes I watched recently involved the backstory of a woman who found out she had cancer that had come out of remission.  Her doctor gave her approximately a year to live.  She accepted this, and was ready to move on and make the best of the life she had left.  Her new husband didn't seem too keen on this idea of moving on, and more or less conned her into going to see a healer in Australia who was supposed to be a miracle worker.

Fast forward to this couple on the island, and the husband is still intent on doing things.  He's not going to let himself be stuck on an island, so he decides to put together a large S.O.S rock signal on an empty beach.  His wife doesn't agree - she thinks, after being stranded on the island for a few months, that this will give people false hope, and they should spend their time instead on living the life they have, not hoping for the life they don't.

Without going into too much detail about their story and how it all turns out - this contrast interested me, because 90% of the time, I'm a doer.  When something needs to be done, I'd prefer to do it myself because I'm egotistical like that and I tend to believe that I prefer my way of doing things to the way someone else would come up with.  It's not that I don't trust that other people are capable, it's more common that I just am a slight control freak and a schedule obsessor and taking on a task myself means I can control the schedule of when something gets done and predict my happiness with the outcome.

And for most of my life, the idea of letting go seemed synonymous with quitting for me.  It meant failure and not being good enough.  But life as a doer is stressful.  Especially when life is uncontrollable and other people also have, you know, agency.  I am determined that it's time for me to spend a little more time letting go.  Letting go of social pressures that are, on the whole, more imaginary than real.  Letting go of stresses I can't fix.  Letting go of trying to control so much of my future that I can't enjoy the present.  It's time to start living, as CS Lewis instructs in Screwtape Letters, in the present.  Living in the past is fruitless, living in the future dangerous.  But living in the present - that is where life touches the eternities most closely.  That is where I want to be.


ramsam said...


Enough said.


KateH said...

What's the mantra from "Dicey's Song"? Let go, reach out, hold on? It seems like such a contradiction but each is a powerful concept.

P.S. We've been re-watching Lost and just finished season 2 too! Let me know when you finish and we'll discuss, or we'll have a Lost party before then! :)