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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Reconsidering Hobbits

When he came to visit in early April, my longtime friend/collaborator/partner in crime "Weird" Ed Woody gave me a birthday present.  It was The Lord of the Rings, Extended Edition on Blu-ray.  It's been sitting unopened on my shelf ever since, 'cuz I haven't really availed myself of its beauty (I hadn't actually watched any of it by that point but having seen the DVD version I could readily imagine how splendorous the Blu-ray would be).

Yesterday I finally cracked it open from the shrink wrap.  I was working on the book and needed something for background noise.  So I popped in Disc 1 of The Fellowship of the Ring.  Every now and then I'd turn to look at the screen and be astounded at the beauty of the film, but mostly I was just listening to it for inspiration as I stared at MS Word open before me.

It wasn't long before the movie was at Bilbo's birthday party.  I've always loved this scene ("I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve").  And then Bilbo slyly puts on the Ring and vanishes and forevermore becomes a Shire legend.

Then we see him in his home, and Gandalf is asking him about "this ring of yours".  Bilbo had intended to part with it, to bequeath it to Frodo.  But he finds that he cannot abandon it.  His eyes look at it lustfully in a way they never have before.  He holds it greedily in his fingers, calling it his "precious", just as Gollum did so many decades earlier.  We see that Bilbo is attached to the Ring.  That he cannot make himself lose his grasp of it, no matter what it is costing him in terms of his spiritual health (his earlier comment about feeling like he's butter scraped over too much bread).

It was like J.R.R. Tolkien was communicating something personally to me, through Peter Jackson's adaptation of his masterpiece.

Because I, too, have had the One Ring.  I have had many such rings throughout the course of my life.  And each one, I have held onto beyond any real sense.  What can I say?  It's one of my character flaws: I have a hard time letting go of things... and especially the past.  And that is what they have collectively been: the One Ring in my possession, but really possessing me.  Keeping me stalled.  Holding me down.  Seizing my mind and my spirit and to an extent my soul.

Like Gollum and the Ring, I both love and hate these things.  I am too enamored by them.

But in the end, we see Bilbo do something that as Gandalf says in the book, is the only time in the Ring's long history that someone has done such a thing: Bilbo lets the Ring drop from the palm of his hand and onto the floor.  He lets go of the Ring.  He lets go of the thing that has held him in its grasp ever since he found it (or was found by it) in Gollum's cave.  He surrenders his control of the Ring and in doing so, he forces the Ring to surrender its control over him.

It hit me hard.  It was Tolkien telling me that I have a ring of my own, and it is destroying me.  I have my own One Ring and it is draining me.  It is a bane, not a boon.  It was Tolkien telling me that I must let go and let it fall to the ground and never think or speak of it again.  That it is not worth being controlled by it.  That like Bilbo, it was spreading me too thin, instead of enjoying life to its fullest.

I wish that it was as easy as having a physical ring to slip off of my palm and onto the floor of my living room, but it's not.  In this, I ask for prayer that my resolve holds true, and that I not be tempted to pick up the ring ever again.

Bilbo lets go of the Ring.  The next thing we see, his heart is merry and he goes off into the night, onto the road that will take him to distant Rivendell and his much-anticipated rest.  He goes off to see the world, to see the mountains and the Elves and the Dwarves.  He has lost the Ring, now the Ring has lost utterly.

I wish it were as simple as that.  Bilbo was lucky, that the Ring was such a tangible item.

I wish that I could be like Bilbo.

I wish that I was a Hobbit.

To have a life of peace, only setting off on an adventure if one felt like it (though it will be thought of as queer by the neighbors).  A life full of cheer and contentment.  A life with friendships that won't be lost.  As well as all that beer and pipeweed, but I digress...

Hobbits don't have to worry about the things that we do.  And manic-depression probably doesn't exist among them.  That alone, makes me envy them.

One can learn a lot from Hobbits.  And I think, in this case, I learned a lot.


Kyle said...

Bilbo Baggins wrote a book too :)

Ami said...

You will be prayed for, Sir Knight. That was very well stated.