The TV Series LOST is about the survivors of a plane crash who are ‘lost’ on a mysterious island. After a few months (and a few seasons), Jack eventually leads 6 survivors back home to safety. He think’s he’s finally ‘found’, but this is when he truly get’s lost. He knows deep down he’s not supposed to be home, and he needs to go back to the island to fulfil his destiny.
“We have to go back” - Jack
I will forever associate LOST the TV series with being lost in life, since it was during a period of aimlessness that I started watching LOST.
When I was younger, life seemed like a series of predefined hoops that I needed to jump through. I had to memorize the multiplication tables to pass 3rd grade. I read the Giver to move on to 8th. I made sure to get good enough grades in high school so that I could go to college. I studied a safe major and undertook numerous internships so that I could get a good job after college. I had the idea that these hoops would go on in perpetuity, and that any deviation from this was bad.
The truth is, I was terrified of doing anything else. I had been conditioned to associate being different with being bad. It got to the point where I actually craved the societal validation I received when I passed through each one of these artificial hoops. Looking back, it was really sad because although I was alive, I wasn’t really living - at least not living my own life.
Had it not been for the 2008 financial crisis, I may well have never veered from that path. Today I’d still probably be a miserable cog in the machine helping the big banks on Wall Street get slightly wealthier. Instead I was laid off, and with few other options due to the poor economy, quickly became lost.
At first I was scared, scrambling to get another job. When that didn’t work out, I became depressed, figuring that the gap on my resume was going to require an inordinate amount of explaining from here on out. But at some point (particularly after watching LOST), I decided to just embrace the fact that I was lost, and to take this time to do things that made me happy.
At first this manifested itself in growing a beard - something that would never have flown in my previous job. I traveled, I created lots of schemes, and started volunteering on a political campaign. The volunteer work turned into a job, which then inspired me to start a company, where I discovered my passion for making software, which is what I am doing with my life today. This wasn’t all a smooth journey, and there were definitely periods of being lost in between, but without this initial period of wandering, none of the other things would have happened.
It was only because I was lost that I became open to discovering who I really was.
Now I’m very comfortable with getting lost. Every time I find myself without direction I make it a point to let my mind race with endless possibilities, and wander aimlessly around the world.
If you ever find yourself lost, I say that’s just fine. You’re not alone - this happens to everyone. It may terrify you. It may depress you. You may go in the wrong direction for a while. You may change course, backtrack, and do all sorts of interesting things. But you will find your way, and you will be better for it. In fact, I’d venture to say that, like me, you’re not lost; you’re exactly where you need to be.