Friday, May 16, 2014

LOST (the TV show) as a little metaphor for life

How do you decide when it's "the end?"

All my life I've had a really good knack for hanging on too long.

I'm THAT person that just can't just let a good thing die. I have a lot trouble with finishing chapters of my life and starting new beginnings in a fresh, focused way, without constantly looking in the rearview. So it's no surprise that I have trouble with goodbyes, trouble with endings.

Remember that TV show LOST? It took me and all my friends by storm in college. We would get together and watch each episode as a group. Even after we graduated, we all kept up with it separately and discussed on Facebook. I remember listening to an interview with the creators after the much anticipated finale of the final season had aired. They talked about how when they created the show they knew how it would begin, and they know how it would end, but everything in the middle was made up as they went along. I couldn't, and still can't, wrap my brain around that concept. How could you know a beginning, but make up such a complex middle "as you go along," in such a way as to end up where you planned from the start?

I assure you that if I were writing for that show, the show would probably have morphed 4,815,162,342 times, we'd have changed the show's title at least once every season, the "right" people would have ended up together making sweet island love, and there would have been showers and a change of clothes for everyone - in every episode. There is no way I could have plotted out the ending before the pilot even aired and kept heading in that direction, through thick and thin. No. Way.

But, in the muchmuchmuch bigger picture... how are our own lives really any different from the way the LOST writers created the show? We know our beginnings as early as we can really "know" anything. We come to understand birth and life at the very first with precious, naive minds, and in the simplest of terms we accept it. We celebrate our beginnings annually on our birthdate, and acknowledge the journey through another year: from Point A, to B, to C.... But then there's Z.

Unlike those clever TV show writers, we don't get to know our ending. We just know we have one. Whether we like it or not, every day is a little step in that direction, and no matter how jumbled or confusing, long or short the storyline becomes along the way, we all end up roughly at the same spot... faced with Point Z.

Last night was the end for Portia, our family rottweiler mix of 14+ years. She was facing Point Z, her finale had arrived, and we allowed her to take it -- with a little less pain than she might have experienced otherwise. I hope. I mean, one always hopes that when you have the power and the ability to make that choice, that you make the right choice. 

I personally didn't have to make the choice last night. I'm thankful for having people in my life who are brave enough to say when it's time, or have the knowledge and experience of having observed this hundreds of times to feel confident saying it's time. It takes megaballs to snipe the threads of fate, and not doubt yourself. And I'm thankful that, in the scheme of things, this was a good end: the kind of end you might write for yourself, if you could do that sort of thing... you know, plot out your ending ahead of time like the writer of a TV show. You might ask that you just go peacefully to sleep, with your family sitting around you, hearing loving words, in the home that you adopted for yourself when you showed up at our door over 14 years ago, and then refused to leave.

Saying goodbye is hard. Duh. Old news. I've gotten a really good, solid lesson on that this last year. I'm clear on how hard goodbyes are... thank you! No more lessons needed. But sometimes what's even harder are the questions those goodbyes raise. Was it the right time? Did we make the right decision? What could have been different? What if....? The lollygagger in me is always going to keep one eye looking back, over my shoulder, down the road I just came. Like I said, it's my nature. I am a retrospective person. Sometimes this is awful. OhMGee. I can work myself into having nervous breakdown second-guessing, analyzing, AGONIZING, imagining different scenarios.

Portia was a piece of my childhood. She is a stamp in my memory passport. She wasn't our favorite dog, by any means, and to be quite frank she was really even a big pain in the ass sometimes. But her end - like anyone else's - is to be acknowledged and respected. It reminds me of all the endings yet to be written out there, for me and everyone else. We can't forget that endings happen, every day, every minute. Not even just by way of physical death, but every day we say goodbye to opportunities and choices and friendships and experiences, that we'll never be able to recreate or rebuild. 

Sometimes, looking back is not a bad thing. Sometimes we need to look back, and remember where we came from and those people, furry friends, encounters, and memories, who moved in our lives and that shook us to our core. They are all apart of our ending, even if we don't know what it is just yet.

Portia "Carlos" at the Guadalupe River.