Friday, September 21, 2012

Re-reading 'The Hobbit' -- An unexpected journey

Today is the 75th anniversary of the publication of "The Hobbit." In honor of the day, and the upcoming three films, I decided to read it again. When "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy came out, I re-read those books over and over, but somehow, I never got back to "The Hobbit." I read it as a kid, lo these many years ago and I loved it. Shocking, I know. Though I didn't know it at the time, it was the hero's journey that really appealed to me. Someone, plucked out of obscurity and set on a path with every opportunity to prove their worth. Yeah, this appealed to me on more levels that I can explain, but if you look at the choices I've made in my life, maybe you can see how it affected me.

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins with his sword Sting in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."
Anyone who knows me will laugh their asses off at this, but I was kind of shy as a kid. Fantasy novels like "The Hobbit" and Anne McCaffrey's "Dragonsinger" trilogy allowed me to dream of a time when I could shine. It was theater that allowed me to find my extra shiny voice. (Oh, I'll never pass up a "Firefly" reference.) Sure, we weren't fighting Wargs and a dragon, but, like the Dwarves, the Wizard and one little Hobbit, we bonded over some seriously intense time spent together. Later on, I'd attempt to conquer the makeup industry and entertainment journalism. Again, not dragon slaying or saving towns, but personally, it was a pretty powerful journey.

The brand new trailer for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey." Watch, and ooh and ah along with me.

I've been through a shit load of drama in the past year, from job loss to divorce to the death of a pet to major surgery. So beginning this book again was a bit daunting for me. Reading it from a far less innocent place made me wonder if I could sympathize with a character who could look forward to an adventure with joy. Sure, Bilbo was worried, but there was a sense of anticipation for the wonders he might see. I thought maybe I'd lost that. At least a little bit.

As I started reading (and continued far, far too late into the night), I realized a few things. First, there is a lack of description that stunned me. I seem to remember it differently. (It's much like "The Chronicles of Narnia" in that way.) As I kid, I must have visualized what I remember being in the book. It was a surprising pleasure to do that again, and to realize that the very act of imagination took me out of the stress of my life and plopped me right back into the child-like mindset I had when I first read it. It was glorious!

Four additional endings for the third trailer for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."

I re-read all about Bilbo's nervousness and worry. The humor of the Dwarves and their constant refrain, "At your service." His cleverness with Gollum. His intelligence and drive. The wonder that he never lost. In the middle of the night, as I started the scene with Smaug the dragon, something hit me. Maybe it seems strange to you all, but it made me want to go on an adventure again. It's been a long time since I've felt that. It gave me the drive to start over, once again and remember why I love what I do and who I am. So, was it the amazing characters Tolkien wrote? The thought of the little guy saving the day? Was it swords and a dragon and a guy who can turn into a bear? (Well, maybe it was a little of that, but ... ) No. In the end, what pulled me up short and made me put down the book (where my bunny promptly started eating it) was the realization that imagining a story was the thing that I was missing.

Emer the bunny thinks Hobbitses are delicious.

Maybe I'm a little more jaded than Bilbo (though he definitely has moments where he'd rather be having tea and toast in his little Hobbit hole than slaying spiders), but there is no reason I shouldn't consider job hunting and getting my ass out of the house to finally exercise after months of recovery and ... gulp ... dating as an adventure. I'm quite certain I've already gone on a date with a Troll. Quite certain. So ... grabbing my sword and off I go. Anyone know any good wizards in need of some work?


  1. Never realized you went thru the wringer so much this year, looking at you and watching you on the web, one would never know it. *Big Hug* If you're feeling adventurous, can make a journey to the Northern Lands, where the people here are friendly and warm (or so I'm told), if you wish it or "As you wish" ;) Be well, another hug as I wave from the far away land of Canada. Cheers

  2. Wow! Thanks Peter! That comment made my day! :)

  3. I find both The Hobbit and LOTR inspiring, too. Great post - sorry to hear it's been such a tough year, but it sounds like you've beaten your own dragons with success!