When you’ve seen as many movies as I have, you begin to see that they all follow a certain pattern. This is true not just of movies, but of all great stories ranging from those found in classic mythology and literature to modern TV series and video games. Joseph Campbell called it the monomyth or hero’s journey. It’s basically a series of steps that the protagonist must go through during the course of his or her adventure. In addition to this, there are also a number of spiritual principles that often find their way into storytelling. By combining these principles with the monomyth, you can pretty much figure out where just about any story is headed. While this skill has proven to be incredibly annoying to my wife, it’s come in very handy for me. Not because I’ve continually annoyed her with my usually correct movie and TV show predictions, but because I’ve noticed that these storytelling rules apply to more than just fictitious stories. They also apply to real life.
Ah, the enlightened life! A life where the superficial trappings of the material world have lost their luster. Where greasy, fried, and fatty foods are no longer tempting. Where meditation, sharing, and an appreciation of the beauty of nature provide all the fulfillment one needs for true happiness. And yet, considering how healthy, content, and self-fulfilled spiritual people claim to be, why are they plagued with so many health, wealth, and happiness issues? Is poverty a requirement of enlightenment? Is self-indulgence selfish? Is self-love a sign of an inflated ego? The irony is that most spiritual people are just as egotistical as materialistic people—perhaps even more so since they believe themselves to be so far above everyone else. Sacrifice and ascetic behavior do not make one spiritual. Denying the material for the sake of the spirit misses the big picture. To be truly fulfilled, one needs to embrace both of these worlds, creating more than a holy life, but a wholly life.
For years leading up to 2012, spiritual-types who were sick of the way the world was heading could take comfort in the promise of a new era that was predicted to begin on December 21 of that year. The Mayans, known for their astronomical expertise had supposedly predicted it. In addition, St. Malachy’s famous Prophecy of the Popes, which predicts when the world as we know it would end, also correlates to about the same time period. The Hopi tribe, Edgar Cayce, a book attributed to Nostradamus, hell, even The History Channel’s countless specials all pointed towards 12/21/12 as the beginning of the end times. The details differed, but whether you believed that Earth was due for a major cataclysm, a spiritual awakening, a religious reckoning and rapture, an alien visitation, a new dimension, or just an enlightened age, most people seemed somewhat excited that a major event was on the horizon. When the day finally arrived, we instead got something that came as a shock to many: absolutely nothing. Or so it would seem.
If you’ve ever wondered why we are here, this article is for you. If you’ve never wondered, some part of you has been wondering without your knowledge or else you wouldn’t be reading this now. There’s been a lot written about what life is and what we’re doing here. Some of it is very technical and philosophical. Some of it is very metaphorical and poetic. And then there is the actual answer, which we may never know. However, one truth I’ve noticed about this world is that cycles exist within cycles within cycles. Electrons swirling around a neutron are similar to our planets swirling around the sun. The shape of a leaf is indicative of the shape of the tree it came from. History repeats itself. Myths evolve over time but their basic elements all remain the same. Putting these truths together I was able to trace back to the origins of the first story and, to my shock and awe, uncovered an answer to a question I’ve been wondering for a very long time: why did the universe evolve to become so seemingly complicated? The answer, ironically enough, is incredibly simple.
In anticipation of TRON: Legacy, I recently re-watched a bunch of simulation-world films including The Thirteenth Floor, eXistenZ, and the original TRON, which I hadn’t seen in over twenty-five years. While I remember being somewhat confused watching the futuristic Disney film as a kid, seeing it again with new eyes, I was amazed at how clearly it expressed the “life as illusion” theme I’ve been so fascinated by as an adult. In the original movie, Jeff Bridges is considered a “user.” While Bridges often plays users in his films, in this case, it refers to a computer user who manipulates the scenarios of a digital world that is very similar to our own. In the original film, users are considered mythical, messianic figures who can help free the programs from the game they find themselves in. This got me thinking.
Wanna know why the Man In Black is really trapped on the island? It’s not because he’s malevolence, evil, or darkness, and it’s not because Jacob wouldn’t let him leave. It’s because he hasn’t overcome his issues. And what are his issues? Up to now, all we know is that he seems to be terribly frightened of adolescent boys. Hopefully, we’ll get a better answer next week, but as ridiculous as this might sound, I actually think there may be something to it.
In Lost’s “Everybody Loves Hugo,” Richard complains that Jacob “never tells us what to do.” Richard’s frustration echoes clearly into our world. For most of us, Jacob, aka God, never seems to tell us what to do. He just sits back and lets us make our own mistakes, leading to countless horrors and suffering. For many, this is a major argument as to why there is no God. Yet, when watching Lost, we see that Jacob does in fact tell the Losties what to do—sometimes directly, sometimes through his lists or clues, and sometimes through messages that he passes on through his emissaries. But certainly this doesn’t happen in our world. Here, there are no ghosts of Michaels past, otherworldly whispers, or visits from dimension-hopping Desmonds to guide us on our journey through life. Or…is there?
Lost episode 6.4, “The Substitute,” has so many parallels with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory , I am convinced that the movie can be used to reveal Lost’s endgame. While I’m sure those parallels also exist within the actual Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book, since I am more familiar with the 1971 Gene Wilder movie (having seen it dozens of times), I will make my comparisons there. Sure, this may turn out to be nothing more than stuff and nonsense, but in the words of Wonka, “a little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.” So, let’s get to it because we have so much time and so little to do. Strike that…reverse it.
Have you ever met someone for the first time who seemed really familiar to you? Strangely, this person likely wound up being an important player in your life. This exact scenario happens to Jack in LA X when he recognizes Desmond on the plane. In What Kate Does, Kate’s parallel life is once again setting up the scene for her to have a connection with Claire and baby Aaron. What if the reason for this familiarity is because we are recognizing these people from our future, or from the story of our destiny?
As soon as I learned of the title of Lost’s Season 6 premiere episode last year, I immediately began to wonder about its implications. Sure, the LA X was a reference to LAX, the abbreviation for Los Angeles International Airport where Oceanic Flight 815 was suppose to land, but why was there a space between the “LA” and the “X”? Like everything on Lost, surely this play on letters was for a reason.