Warning: Spoilers for an awesome twist in Season 6 of LOST follow.
I was talking to my roommate the other night about life, the universe, and everything. Specifically, the afterlife. The funny thing is that we are both atheists.
I said that if I were going to believe in an afterlife, I would believe in the one from LOST. For those of you who thought "I'm never going to watch that show, I don't care about some stupid spoiler," here is a brief description: Basically, when the characters in LOST died, they went to place that was very similar to our world. They had no memory of their lives and instead seemed to be living in a kind of alternate universe where the plane never crashed on the island, the island was sunk under the ocean, etc.
It was slowly revealed over the course of the season that these people were living in different circumstances from how they lived in their lives. For example, Sawyer, a con-artist in life, was a cop in the flash sideways. Jack had a son in the flash sideways that he never had in the original timeline.
The flash sideways also allowed these people to overcome problems or issues they were never able to in life. For example, by having a kid of his own, Jack was able to finally deal with his father issues. The flash sideways also allowed some characters to have a second chance at choices they made in life. In the original timeline, Ben chose his own power on the island over the life of his daughter Alex, a decision he regretted for the rest of his life. In the flash sideways, he is presented with a similar choice. In this instance, he is a teacher making a power grab against the corrupt principle. However, the principle says that if Ben goes through with his plan, he will write a bad letter of recommendation for Alex and she will not get into Yale. This time, though, Ben chooses Alex over his own power and resigns.
Eventually, the characters in the flash sideways are "awakened" to the realization that they have had an entire other life and have died. This awakening happens usually as the result of meeting a loved one from their life. When Sawyer meets Juliet, they start to remember and kiss, after having been separated when she died. Before they were awakened, though, they had no idea that the flash sideways world wasn't "real."
Once they were awakened, they all met up at a church together to "move on." The flash sideways was "a place that they had all made together," in order to meet up and move on. They all died at different times, but all came to the flash sideways together, as there was no "now" there.
I really like that idea, and if I was to believe in an afterlife, it would be that one. No being "judged" and sent to either heaven or hell. Just being with loved ones and examining your life. When I die, it would cool to be reunited with all of the people that mattered most to me and live in a cool alternate reality for a while before remembering my life and choosing to let go and move on.
The question my roommate posed when I explained all this to me was, "How do you know this isn't your flash sideways?"
I thought about that for a while. I suppose I don't know. I could very well be dead right now and living in my flash sideways, not having become aware yet. It's an interesting idea. I think this could be true for all of us.
I guess this would mean that I'm not getting any more second chances. Even if I would get to retry my bad decisions in a hypothetical afterlife, who's to say that this ISN'T that afterlife? So, I suppose my message is: treat every choice like it matters. Every time you have a tough decision to make, you don't know if this is your last chance to get it right.
Anyway, still gotta say that I'm an atheist and this is all highly improbably to me. Nevertheless, it's fun to think about.
And if this IS the flash sideways, then I hope that when the time comes to move on, I can find it in myself to finally let go.