I’ve finally read J.R.R. Tolkien’s prelude to his famous Lord of the Rings trilogy. Of course, I’ve seen most of the films, but reading this classic was a treat. The world that Tolkien gives us is enchanting, and feels very much like a fairy tale to me–but one with a happy ending. (Looking at you, Brothers Grimm.)
It took a while for me to adjust to the way in which Tolkien writes–think of children’s books where the prose goes onto the next page, Yertle the Turtle, style–but as soon as I did, I was enjoying all the insights into Bilbo’s journey.
One thing I enjoyed the most was the humor. Personally, I liked how often Bilbo wished that he was back in his hobbit hole. The funny thing about Bilbo’s longing is that, even while he’s wishing dearly that he was home, he is still having a grand time being out in the wide world. Despite the danger he’s facing, he’s still keeping his feet firmly on solid ground. If he had refused the dwarves and remained in Hobbiton, he wouldn’t have made solid friends with lads like Fili and Kili.
I guess, like a fairy tale, Tolkien is teaching us that in order to fully enjoy–and embrace–life, we must step outside our front doors, stepping onto the Road, not exacting knowing where it will take us.
My last family vacation felt like stepping into the Road. While we knew where we were headed every day, I still felt awe at the sights. I still felt elation knowing that every day would be a new adventure, an uncharted path. Like all good family vacations, I bonded even more deeply with my parents and my sister. (We missed our two dogs, Bogan and Bentley, a lot!) We developed some great memories, and had some pretty funny inside jokes along the way.
Just like Bilbo, I would never have discovered the unfathomable beauty of the Grand Canyon, if I had stayed home. In a way, I am a homebody; when the moment strikes me, I too long for adventure. If I’d stayed home–which was out of the question, of course I wanted to go–I would have never fully grasped the vastness of the Grand Canyon. It’s hard to capture in photographs, no matter how good a camera you have on you. The beauty is inspiring and breathtaking. Because I left the comfort of my home, I have fantastic memories of visiting various national parks, and spending quality time with my family.
Here’s to Bilbo, for leaving his comfy hobbit hole in Bag End:
Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon. (pg. 283)