“We’re all connected.” It’s the ubiquitous mantra of new-agey types. Chances are if you’ve ever watched Oprah, were a fan of the TV show Lost, or have read just about anything I’ve written, you are very familiar with this concept. Along with its close cousin “everything happens for a reason,” it’s pretty much become a cliché that isn’t really given much thought. Yet, how exactly are we all connected? Sure, we’re all made of the same elements, live on the same planet, and are plugged into the same Internet, but the phrase usually refers to the idea that all of our minds are somehow connected, that our lives are intertwined, that actions taken by you, now, could somehow affect a struggling shoe salesman living in Uzbekistan. I think it’s about time we explored this concept and saved it from the nether regions of trite, hackneyed banality. After all, if the idea that “we’re all connected” is a given, why doesn’t anyone (with the possible exception of Oprah herself) really believe it?
Those who move in spiritual circles often talk about how we are all connected, that our thoughts create our future reality, and that the universe provides us with clues about our direction in life. Personally, I look at spiritual principles as scientific rules that we just don’t understand yet. Not too long ago, the idea that people could get sick from tiny bugs they couldn’t see or that invisible waves could carry images or music was thought to be magical thinking, until science proved it to be true. So if these spiritual principles are indeed a rule of our universe, there should be a way to test and predict their occurrence. Doing this on an individual scale might prove challenging though, since one person’s thoughts may not have enough energy to make something manifest in a testable way. But what if there were an event that millions of people were focusing on, and this event inspired heated, emotionally charged thoughts that could result in only one of two possible outcomes? If only we had such an event, why, we just might be able to predict the future on a grand scale!
Back in June 2009, I wrote an article titled “Proof That We’re Living a Life of Illusion.” In it, I provided what I felt was overwhelming evidence that we all live in some kind of computer simulation. I also offered some simple explanations as to why I thought we did. At the time, the people who are open to believing in such fantastical theories excitedly agreed with the premise, while those who rely on hard-core scientific proof, did not. Well, a funny thing’s happened in the years since I wrote that article. Scientists are beginning to see the evidence that the non-believers require. The question now is, whether those skeptics will decide to take the blue pill or the red pill?
Have you seen them? They’re everywhere: in movies and TV shows, on ads and product packaging, in architecture, design, floor patterns, the Olympics, online, and even on the paper wrapped around hero sandwiches. They are honeycombs and hexagons, and they are taking over. Sure, design styles come and go, but why has this one seemed to have popped up so suddenly, become so incredibly prolific, and been so invisible to so many? Of course, now that you’re in the know, you’ll begin seeing them too (if you haven’t already). The question is why are they here, what do they mean, and why should you care?
By now you have no doubt heard that according to astronomers and anthropologists, December 21, 2012 correlates to the “end” of the Mayan calendar. And, despite having repeatedly heard about this for many, many years now, it is also very probable that you still have no idea exactly what this means. The reason is because it’s very complicated. To even begin to understand it you need to look to the Mayan myths of the Sacred Tree and understand their incredibly complex Long Count calendar of tuns, k’atuns, and b’aktuns as well as their concepts of the Great Cycle, the Great Great Cycle, and cycles within cycles. You’d also need to understand astronomical occurrences involving the precession of the equinoxes and the conjunction of the sun at the intersection of the plane of the ecliptic and the Milky Way. You can do all that, or, you can simply read my interpretation of this summer’s Green Lantern movie, which shares the same message as the Mayan mythology.
As mentioned in last quarter’s column, there have been a lot of “life-as-illusion” themed movies coming out lately. While I suspect that the success of Avatar and Lost are partly responsible for this trend, I think people’s fascination with 2012, drastic world changes, and a surge in our search for meaning are also fueling the recent string of films about alternate realities and simulated worlds. When airplanes are crashing into buildings, cities are submerged underwater, the Middle East is revolting, and the world economy is collapsing, real life almost seems more fantastical than our dreams. Jon Stewart summed it up perfectly at the 2008 Academy Awards: “Normally, when you see a black man or a woman president, an asteroid is about to hit the Statue of Liberty.” Yes, we are now officially living in the future, and we all know what kind of stuff happens in the future—exactly the kind of stuff that’s happening right now. But at least, thanks to Hollywood, we’ve been warned. And Hollywood’s heads up may even go much deeper than prophesies of events to come. They may help explain the reality we all find ourselves in.
Throughout my travels this summer, I kept hearing similar themes coming up again and again: the idea that the world seems to be broken and in need of repair, that the system no longer works, that the rules have drastically changed since we were kids, that there seems to be a gap between where we are and where we want to go, both as a society, and in our individual lives. Admittedly, these themes were most often being repeated by me, but others weren’t giving me the kind of baffled looks I used to get when I spoke my mind. No, most of the time they agreed with me and shared their frustrations about how hard things seem to be these days. Initially, I had no answers. But then, a solution came to me from a most unexpected source—the TV show, Lost. Actually, the source wasn’t the unexpected part since I’d been getting wisdom from Lost for years and had even written a book about it. What was unexpected was that the show had already concluded three months earlier.
On the evening of October 6th, 2009, I awoke from a deep sleep with the sensation that there was a bright light shining on me from behind my head. Not only could I see this light, I could feel it and I soon became very hot. It felt almost as though the light were cooking me, but I didn’t want to move—or maybe, I couldn’t move. Eventually, the light faded and I fell back to sleep. So, what was it? Was it all in my mind? Was I getting some kind of program download or vibration upgrade? Was it a celestial connection? An angel communication? An alien probe? I wasn’t sure, but my forehead was very red the next morning and soon began peeling as though I’d gotten a sunburn. But this was October, and I hadn’t been out in sun for any length of time. Completely baffled, I decided to seek the help of my trusty mentor and longest childhood friend…television.
Lost is dead. Long live Lost. And so it ends, in much the same way it began—with a close-up of Jack’s eye, staring straight up past the tall stalks of bamboo that circled the sky above. This time however, that eye would close, and with it, our six-season journey that took us right back to where we started—with questions about a mysterious show that seemed to parallel the mysteries of life. For some, the journey was far more compelling than the destination. For others, it was the perfect resolution and they can walk away feeling fulfilled. Whatever you thought about the conclusion, the one thing most viewers can agree on is that the show challenged us to think in ways we might not have otherwise. In short, Lost was a real trip. And what a long, strange trip it’s been.
In the penultimate episode of Lost, “What They Died For,” Jacob tells the surviving Losties why he chose them as candidates: “I chose you because you were all alone. You were all looking for something that you couldn’t find out there. I chose you because you needed this place as much as it needed you.” This explanation really resonated with me, on one hand because it provided a mythologically sound answer to the main question I’ve always had about Lost: why do all these characters have major issues? And having that answer provided the other reason I really liked the explanation: I immediately understood that while Jacob was addressing the remaining candidates, he was really speaking to us.