Lost, Found: Walkabout

Walkabout — as Locke describes it, “a journey of spiritual renewal where one bcomes one with the Earth and derives strength from it.” As the survivors are all lost and trying to find themselves and the island represents in so many ways the Earth, it seems the entire series is an epic walkabout.

Noise, rumblings in the fuselage, waking everyone up. Jack assumes it’s Sawyer, lotting. Sawyer nastily announces to Jack, “Right behind you, Jackass.” A tiny moment, but one full of assumption, of generalizing, assume the worst of people, or at least assuming people will do what you’ve seen them do before. How times will this happen in the show? How many times does it happen in our lives? When so many of us are caught in patterns, doomed to repeat ourselves, it seems reasonable — and yet isn’t this inclination to assume one of the very things that keeps us in these patterns? All are afraid, but it turns out to be a boar — Locke smiles, recognizing that what was frightful is now the potential for food, for sustenance, that things were not as they appeared.

Sayid expresses concern over burning the dead bodies in the fuselage, without concern for their wishes, their religions. Jack may be right that there is no opportunity to sort that out. Worth noting who was sensitive to this, though — not just the Muslim, whose creed decries cremation, but the Muslim, the Iraqi, who knows very well how so many other misjudge people with these labels. The outcast knows better than any how important it is to be sensitive, inclusive.

Flashback: Locke plays his war game while at work. The culture that itself creates war does not allow its members to feel power, to struggle for survival. That can only happen in a game. One must leave the culture in order to feel true power, to truly survive.

Michael is going boar hunting with Locke. Walt: “Why can’t I come?” Michael: “‘Cause I said so.” Authoritarian parenting, no reason given. Does he respect Walt so little as to deny a reason, or does he respect himself so little because he can’t provide a good reason, and this is the only way to avoid confronting his own self-disrespect?

Locke tracking the boar. Noticing clues in the ground. Explaining the habits of boar. Using knowledge, skill, for survival. A sharp contrast with paper pushing as he’d done at home. There is something thrilling and threatening about his ability to do this. So many work lifeless jobs, making money to buy food that is kept from you unless you hand the money over. How many would keep doing this if they had the skills Locke had? How much of civilization would crumble if people left those jobs and could get food on their own like this? Here on the island, Locke can truly experience his own power and channel it toward life, no longer just a game. Those who abandon the game and do this in reality are a palpable threat to civilization.

Shannon needs to prove to Boone that she can catch her own fish. She invites Charlie to go for a walk. She gets him to catch a fish for her. Boone frowns on this. Is this the same or different from Locke? She has tracked her quarry, used her knowledge of its behavior, applied her skill to obtained food for herself. But in this case her quarry was just a man taken in by her wiles. Is it the same when one gets someone else to provide as opposed to providing for oneself directly? Are Shannon’s strategies threatening to or supportive of civilization’s typical power structures?

Jack doesn’t want to confront Rose who sits alone, but he convinced to because he is the one who saved her. He sits with her, and he manages to truly care for her, beyond his medical abilities. He acknowledges her desire to be alone and says it’s okay, simply suggesting that she take care of herself, drink. She doesn’t respond, and he says it’s okay if she’s wants to be quiet, they can just sit together. He is providing empathy and connection, stretching beyond his usual behavior patterns — and it does reach Rose, who opens up for the first time since the crash.

John’s flashback, he is annoyed with his boss, and says, for the first of many times we’ll hear the line, “Don’t tell me what I can’t do.” This line is particular interesting and resonant. The problem-based mindset focuses on what is not being done — the appreciative mindset reframes to focus on the many things that can be done despite what seems undoable, and in the process it often extends what is doable. Focusing on what one can do allows one to cultivate ability, strength, talent, power — just as we’ve seen John doing with the boar.

Several more resonances with this very significant line:

  • Telling someone what they can’t do is denying validation for that person, validation that may encourage them with what they can do as well as the validation they surely need in order to come to accept the things they truly can’t. One need not only talk about what someone can do — we can be there for someone, with empathy, when they are facing something they can’t. This, indeed, may help them grow to face, to do, after all.
  • Natural laws, defining how things work in the universe, in the world, are almost always able to phrased as a limit, as something that cannot be done. Light cannot travel more than a certain speed. Energy cannot be indefinitely conserved. Knowing this natural laws, though, enables tremendous amounts of accomplishment and activity. Non-living things do all they do by honoring these laws, as do non-human living things — and some humans. Only those humans which lament the limits imposed by the universe fail to see just how much potential there is within those limits, how much can be done.
  • The laws of civilized cultures often dictate what is forbidden, what “cannot” be done. However, prohibition and punishment fail to prevent those actions from happening. By focusing our laws and our justice systems on “what we cannot do,” we fail to foster the kind of activity we actually want, ensuring only that we get more of what we don’t want, and not much justice.

Compare Charlie and Hurley in their attempt to catch a fish. Comical compared to Locke. But what might they be able to do that perhaps Locke cannot?

Rose guesses that Jack became a doctor because of his caring way — but he says he was just born into it. Jack’s caring approach to Rose stands in very stark contrast to his medical work, in which he is known to have poor bedside manner. It is not a desire to care that led him to medicine, only a need to fix. Perhaps the caring side of him may lead him away from medicine. But toward what?

Kate tries to boost the transceiver signal, and the Monster comes, crashing down trees. Once again, the island does not want anyone to attempt to make the island visible to the outside world. Locke then sees the Monsters, appears to confront it, and it spares him. Do the Monster and the island sense something special about Locke, understand his appreciation for the island?

Rose says her husband is not dead. Jack tells her everyone in the tail of the plane is gone. “They’re probably thinking the same thing about us.” Once again, there are assumptions based on one’s perspective, failing to consider how things might look from another point of view. Immediately after this, Jack sees his father. Is there significance in this being juxtaposed with Rose’s talk, indicating that people aren’t really gone even though we thought they might be?

Kate returns with the broken machine and asks Sayid to try again. He becomes angry and frustrated that he must do so while lying to everyone who wants to know what he’s actually doing. He is upset about the deliberate deception. Will those who want to speak the truth get their say, or will they be pushed down by those who want the truth hidden? Will we be convinced to hold ourselves down instead of speaking our truths?

Jack tells Kate about the memorial and sees his father again — just as his father appeared before, right after Jack mentioned the memorial to Rose. Jack may seem unemotional about the crash memorial, but even for Jack much can be evoked by the prospect of remembering the dead. Right then, Locke, who’d been presumed dead when he didn’t return with the other boar hunters, appears with a dead boar. Not only did the Monster fail to take him, he’s returned victorious in his hunt. Someone thought dead turns out not to be — resonance for Rose’s husband, for Jack’s father?

Charlie takes a hit of heroin during the memorial. Must he himself to be present to death? What about when it runs out? Just like the antibiotics will run out and Jack will have new things to confront, so will this drug run out for Charlie. Just like batteries and lighter fluid will run out. Soon enough, more and more survivors will have more and more to confront.

Michael asks if Locke got any kind of look at the Monster. Locke says no. More lies, more deliberate deception about the island. Is he guarding his own private island experience? Is he sparing the rest something that may concern them? Either way, it will remain unclear whether good will come from the deception.

Flashback: Locke in the wheelchair after they’ve refused him to get on the bus for the walkabout. The event planners interpret things so literally — Locke can’t possibly walk about. But it’s a spiritual quest, not a physical one. Once again, Locke says, “Don’t tell me what I can’t do.” It’s then we see him on the beach, moments after the crash, and he can wiggle his feet. He has full functioning. He stands. Why? How? We don’t know, and neither does Locke, but his point is certainly proved — we can’t say what someone can’t do, lest we be proved simply wrong in light of new developments. Locke is up on his feet just in time for when Jack asks him for a hand. Immediately, his first act as a walking person again is to serve others. Back to the memorial, the wheelchair is in the flames, burning — Locke is moving past something from his past that restricted him.

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