Her wisdom was not our wisdom.
Rose’s wisdom was greater than Jack’s, for she possessed it prior to his enlightenment. Greater even than Locke’s, because it guided her actions before fate brought her to the Island.
Our wisdom is logical. It tells us Rose had cancer, the Island cured her cancer, therefore Rose must stay on the Island. Rose’s wisdom was not confined by anything as crude as logic. Her wisdom told her violent people have a disease worse than cancer, violent people inhabited the Island, therefore Rose had to leave the Island.
Rose followed Jack but she did not follow him off the Island. She stayed. Of the seventy-one who survived Oceanic Flight 815, in fact, only two individuals never left the Island: Rose and Bernard Nadler.
She wanted to go, but decided to stay. She rejected Locke, yet no one was closer to him in the end. Her wisdom is not of the Island, yet she is soul of the Island. She is a bundle of contradictions—if we understand her through our wisdom. The most fascinating story of LOST is reduced to this strange truth: There are no contradictions. Rose Nadler never wavered.
Faith Not Hope
Rose never hoped that Bernard was alive.
She loved Bernard. She had faith in him. In terms we might understand, she knew Bernard was alive. But this knowledge did not come from statistical probabilities or anything seen or heard. Her knowledge derived of a much more reliable source. Rose knew Bernard was alive, but not in the same way she knew the sun would rise the next day; the knowledge was more certain than the continuity of our star. She had a spiritual connection to her husband. She didn’t hope. She believed.
JACK: Rose, after the sun goes down, we're going to burn the fuselage. It's just something that we have to do. There's going to be a memorial service back at the camp for those... who didn't make it. For everyone to say goodbye.
ROSE: I'd like to be there for that.
JACK: Okay. Maybe if you'd like to say something, you know, about your husband.
JACK: I'm just saying if you wanted to say goodbye to Bernard.
ROSE: Doctor, my husband is not dead.
JACK: Rose, he was in the tail section of the plane. It broke off in mid-flight. I'm sorry, but everyone who was in the rear of the plane's gone.
ROSE: They're probably thinking the same thing about us.
We were given three images of human action in the opening hours of LOST: Jack running, Locke rising, and Rose sitting. Jack ran because... well, because he was confused, at every level of his being. Everything he was experiencing was beyond his ability to cope. Locke rose because he could, not only because his legs worked, but because everything about him that had been a hindrance in California was now a virtue on the Island. He rose above everyone else, because there was work to do, because the Island called.
Rose sat. She sat alone, like an island Buddha, grasping the gold ring on her necklace, staring out into the blue. She was not frightened, lonely, or upset. Her words were calm. She shed no tears, had no regrets, expressed neither pain nor bitterness nor fear.
I can’t say I understand with certainty her need to sit alone. Perhaps it was not so much need as inevitability. She had the deepest possible connection with her Constant, and that Constant was on the other side of the Island. Jack as yet had no Constant, Locke was only just discovering his, and Jin and Sun were only a few shouting words removed from divorce.
In retrospect we can certainly understand the image of Rose sitting at the edge of the water as very much in keeping with Buddhist tradition, and at the same time revelatory of Rose’s inner state. A countenance unperturbed by any earthly event is the signature image of the Buddha. Rose, virtually alone among the survivors, perfectly adopted the Buddha’s calm, both inside and out.
Perhaps I do not read too much into the situation to make this claim: Rose was our teacher. She accepted things as they were, not as she wished they might be. She knew herself and the world around her—something that would become increasingly evident as the survivors’ time on the Island turned into weeks and then years.
Rose was confident in herself and in her understanding of the world. She knew Bernard was alive, and she knew it with greater certainty than anything Jack had ever gleaned from a medical text. This was not arrogance. There was never any arrogance in her words, least of all when she pronounced, with unshaken certainty, that Bernard was alive. Her words were those of a person certain of her place in a larger scheme. She was a woman dans sa peau (http://french.about.com/od/vocabulary/a/biendanssapeau.htm).
Rose was the first and most important teacher of the concept of the Constant. The Constant was the title of the most beloved hour of LOST. It was the idea that held together the sideways world and made clear that world’s significance to the larger series. Rose retained her sanity for the forty-eight days she endured without Bernard only because she concentrated on him, held his ring in her fingers, and maintained the proper orientation of thoughts in her mind. That is to say, she remembered her Constant.
When Charlie’s constant disappeared, Rose knew what to do. Her husband missing and assumed dead, Charlie didn’t understand her calm. Rose had no explanation. “It's a fine line between denial and faith. It's much better on my side,” she said. Rose had no answers for him, but she and Charlie shared a source of strength few others on the Island knew was available. When the pain was too great and Charlie cried out in anguish, Rose was there. She took Charlie’s hand in hers, consoling him, giving strength to the one who would eventually die for her and Jack and the other survivors. Together, they prayed.
Destiny Not Fate
Isaac of Uluru was an unusual healer, able to channel the unique energy of Australia’s most prominent geological feature into psychic health and biological repair. He did not perform miracles, could not see the future, made no claims of his abilities. He channeled, and sometimes those in his presence were healed.
Isaac should not be confused with Richard Malkin, the psychic seer. While Richard was likely a fraud (see Lindelof and Cuse, Time Talks, NYT, May 21, 2010; also see http://pearsonmoore-gets-lost.com/TheAaronConspiracy.aspx ), Isaac was the genuine article. The fake seer was motivated by greed. Isaac of Uluru was motivated by desire to help, and his abilities were real.
Bernard loved Rose more than anyone, more than anything. A ten thousand dollar donation to Isaac was nothing to Bernard if it meant he might be able to heal her.
Rose, of course, wanted nothing to do with Isaac. “I didn't ask for this! This is... Bernard, I have made my peace with what is happening to me.” Peace. Calm. Again we see the attributes that most defined Rose Nadler. Regardless of the situation, whether circumstance favoured her or not, she was at peace with the lot she had been given.
Rose’s reaction to Isaac was the most important lesson of her and Bernard’s only centric episode, “S.O.S.” (Lost 2.19), but the most interesting was Isaac’s advice on Rose’s condition.
ISAAC: I'm sorry. I can't do anything for you, Rose.
ROSE: I didn't expect you to.
ISAAC: It's not that you can't be healed. Like I said, there's different energies. This is not the right place for you.
ROSE: Where is the right place?
ISAAC: I wish I knew.
No one told her the location of “the right place” that could heal her. But sitting on the sandy shore of the Island, she knew she had found the place Isaac said would help her. When Locke’s leg was severely injured by the blast door, he told Rose Jack had said recovery would require four weeks. “But, honey,” she said, “you and I both know it's not going to take that long.”
Rose’s destiny was to find and enjoy paradise on Earth. She had no knowledge of this, and she would have accepted any place on the planet as her paradise. As long as Bernard was at her side, she was where she belonged.
Rose never spoke of destiny because no journey was necessary, at least not in a sense others could understand. Wherever she was, she had already arrived. No effort was required to make do with whatever circumstance had delivered to her.
Destiny for Rose was not a location or a physical condition or a higher place to which one aspired. More than anything, for Rose, destiny was a state of being. She rarely exercised an option to make a decision. When the world forced a choice, she opted for the less irksome set of conditions. Life was not about the number of days but the quality of those days. All of her decisions must be seen in light of her need to maintain equilibrium in her life. When she was obliged to choose between staying on the Island with Locke or leaving with Jack, she chose to leave, even though it meant her death.
BERNARD: (To Rose) You said you'd never leave the Island, if you wanna go with Locke, I'll be right behind you.
ROSE: I'm not going anywhere with that man.
Locke, with his knives and guns, was the antithesis of Rose. He strove for things that required no effort. Peace of mind, the ability to live within one’s circumstance, the assurance of one’s integrity, dignity, and worth—all of these truths were available to everyone as foundations to the life well led. Locke’s obsession with “destiny” was causing greater disruption than anything the most malevolent of Widmore’s mercenaries could perpetrate against them. How many had died at Locke’s hands, or from his knives and guns? How many had suffered or died because Locke pouted and decided Day 57 was a good time to destroy the Swan Station computer, discharging enough electromagnetic energy to power Manhattan for 1200 years? If these things were necessary to Locke’s destiny, he could have it, but Rose would take no part in it.
Equilibrium Not Enlightenment
The Buddha does not know she is “enlightened”, and she sees no need for posturing toward any such claim. What she understands is the simplicity of life and the fact that to draw breath is to count on the equilibrium of self within the world.
When Jack was struck down with an appendicitis, it did not mean he had succumbed to genetic pre-disposition or physiological chance. Something more important was transpiring: Jack was not in equilibrium.
BERNARD: Honey, I am sure Jack’s gonna be okay. An appendectomy is just about the most common kind of surgery there is.
ROSE: That's not what I was thinking about. I was thinking, "Why did he get sick?"
BERNARD: Why? It's... just bad luck.
ROSE: The day before we're all supposed to be rescued, the person that we count on the most suddenly comes down with a life-threatening condition, and you're chalking it up to bad luck?
BERNARD: Well, what are you saying, that—that Jack did something to offend the gods? People get sick, Rose.
ROSE: Not here. Here, they get better.
Rose alone knew that Jack’s illness was the sign of a change in condition carrying immense significance. He had to be so far out of alignment that not even the Island could help him. This was the Island that had immediately cured Rose of terminal cancer. It was the Island that had given Locke legs to walk and a clear vision of something bright and beautiful. This same Island could help Jack if he allowed it—if he could only rise like Locke, or better, sit like Rose.
In 1977 the Island’s inhabitants were facing the most difficult set of circumstances in decades. The balance of power would not shift this radically again until the Purge of 1992. Dozens of lives were on the line. Rose and Bernard must have had some inkling of the principalities and powers moving in those days, but they maintained their placid demeanour.
KATE: Jack has a bomb.
ROSE: Who cares?
KATE: Excuse me?
ROSE: It's always something with you people. Now you say Jack's got a bomb. And what, you guys are all gonna try to stop him, right?
JULIET: Yeah, that's right.
ROSE: We traveled back 30 years in time, and you're still trying to find ways to shoot each other?
JULIET: Rose, we just need to know which way the DHARMA Barracks are from here so we can stop Jack, or you're gonna be dead. We all will.
BERNARD: So we die. We just care about being together. That's all that matters in the end.
It’s not that Kate’s struggle was not important to Rose and Bernard. It’s not that they were withdrawing from society, that they were retired (even though Bernard used this very word), or that they were afraid of engagement. There was no fear in Rose’s face. They didn’t withdraw from civilisation, they were preserving it. And if Rose was “retired” she was behaving no differently than she had before her retirement.
In fact, nothing in Rose’s philosophy or bearing had changed at all. She grew peace, stability, and equilibrium in her garden, as she always had, even before she found herself on the Island. The biggest change was that now Bernard was completely at her side, accepting whatever bumps were thrown in their way but always enjoying each other and the life they had made with Vincent in a little hut in the jungle.
“You can let go now.”
Who was this woman of calm voice and steady heart, whose counsels informed the wise, whose courage sustained the strong?
Rose Nadler was the soul of the Island. Her wisdom did not obtain from any seeking after destiny or enlightenment or hopes and dreams. Her wisdom was of the most elementary variety, the type to which we fancy ourselves subscribers, but in reality we have not the slightest clue how to practice. She lived and preached the truths of human existence inscribed on the Cork Stone, those precepts of humanity that define us as civilised people, the categories of thought and attitude that guide behaviour and reason in people of good will. In this wisdom, Rose never wavered. She was our teacher, Jack’s teacher, and the Island’s most dedicated resident. Rose Henderson Nadler was the only person in six years and 121 episodes who was never Lost.
This essay is dedicated to my better half, Kim, who survived cancer not once but twice, and whose patience with me is even more enduring than Rose’s patience with Bernard, whose love for me is undeserved but always savoured. Rose is my wife’s favourite LOST character.
Posted by DarkUFO at 10/31/2010 09:03:00 am 55 CommentsPearson Moore , Rose