I seek closure. I need closure. I’m obsessive about closure. Oh, not the way it is in the movies, where the action hero wreaks vengeance on the town where he was wronged once upon a time. No, the closure I seek is wanting to finish… whatever.
I signed up for Netflix during 2020’s shelter-at-home. I had a lot of time on my hands and thought if I watched television, which I rarely did anymore, it might keep me awake past 8 pm, hence I’d sleep past 4 am. I also had a lot of friends who were always talking about this or that streaming program, and I felt seriously conversation-marginalized when such discourse began.
Once I had Netflix, I previewed three friend-recommended series and got hooked on them all. Unfortunately, all of them concluded their next-to-last seasons with a cliffhanger, and given the industry-wide production delays, I waited a full 18 months to learn if Beth survived the bomb (Yellowstone), Marty and Wendy escaped the cartel (Ozark), and Jimmy really ran a Cinnabon shop (Better Call Saul).
This circumstance is why I quit watching dramatic series TV in the first place. I was a fan of the ultra-mysterious, ultra-confusing Lost. I watched all 121 episodes over six seasons. And this was back when you had to tune in real-time, commercials and all, or remember to set an often unreliable VCR each week. And of course, there was no such thing as binge-streaming in order to get closure sooner. Meanwhile, several of my co-workers were also hooked on Lost, so when they dropped by the next morning to analyze the previous evening’s episode, there was pressure to have watched it too.
The initial episode of the show hooked me, as the producers hoped it would, and for the next six years, I felt like an indentured servant. And how was I rewarded for my faithful puzzlement about what the hell was going on, episode after episode? The series finale was promoted weeks in advance as all-enlightening. Yet, when it was over (extended that one time to ninety minutes, I might add), I still had no clue what it all meant. There went 121 1/2 hours of my life that I’ll never get back.
I need closure, and not just in TV shows. There’s also the dilemma of my to-do list. I keep a running list in a notebook of everything that needs doing by me—with the house, vehicles, my part-time consulting work, two volunteer endeavors, my writing, and personal financial and lifestyle management. First thing every morning I update the list (because of course, Item #1 on the list is always, ‘Update list’). And I have a self-imposed rule that I must complete at least five of the tasks each day. The problem is, I want to finish the entire list, just one time. Unfortunately, like 1965’s popular musical, Man of La Mancha, that’s an impossible dream. Oh, I’ve tried, believe me, I’ve tried. And the harder I try each day, the more sleep I lose that night because of my inevitable failure.
I’ve even tried making a concerted effort not to write on my list something that needs doing, thus eliminating one more tick on the way to restful slumber. Unfortunately, because I must write things down as they occur to me or I immediately forget them, then I lie awake at night wondering what it was I forgot to write down.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I also detest idle time. So, right there is quite a dilemma for me—having tasks to keep me busy versus feeling purposeless and irrelevant if I ever get close to not having tasks to keep me busy. And when I have occasionally neared the nirvana of to-do list completion, if only for one day, I always ponder why I can’t be more of a procrastinator, like many people who are probably a lot happier with their lives. But of course, that involves putting that question on my to-do list to research, which sort of defeats the purpose.
So, for now, I guess I’m satisfied always having something left on my to-do list at the end of each day, lest I someday have no reason to get out of bed. But I’d ask this favor of my friends: Please don’t recommend any other Netflix shows that don’t resolve the plot each hour or that end the season with a cliffhanger unless, of course, the new season starts next week.
Phil Goldstein writes Tales from Timnath periodically for North Forty News. Phil is a 12-year Timnath resident who proudly serves the Town of Timnath as chair of the Timnath Planning Commission. Phil is finally using his journalism degree after getting sidetracked 49 years ago. The views expressed herein are Phil’s only. Contact him with comments on the column or suggestions for future columns at NFNTimnath@gmail.com.