Perhaps it is cliche that I choose to write a post (as I’m sure there are thousands today writing such posts) about J.R.R Tolkien on his birthday. However, it is my personal blog and a writer is never cliche, she simply writes what she means to. Ahhh, got you there didn’t I. So I digress.
A favorite quote, if I must be decisive, “All those who wander are not lost.” I cannot recount how many minutes, upon hours, of my childhood and, now adulthood, that were spent day dreaming. Some would call my mind unfocused, air-headed, distracted…call it what you will but whatever it may be, my mind is not lost. It is a sentiment that I am glad to have experienced from Tolkien’s work. I have never felt more “found” than when I am allowed to explore the ramblings and bizarre twists of my mind. Indeed, even physically, taking the unmarked path, though you may fear being lost, can have some astounding revelations. I had the most wonderful opportunity as a child with an incredible, curious grandmother that loved to wander. Every time we went out driving, she would wander the back roads, even in areas I would have guessed she didn’t know so well; and somehow, somehow we still made it to our destination. And we were on time. Now you tell me that she was lost and I’ll laugh in your face. Not only did I get to experience someone who appreciate the little pathways in life, the winding road instead of the straight; but I also got to experience some splendid story telling while we wandered. Those little moments taught me more about the world than I would have guessed. Our roads are long and we don’t know the end, so why rush, why not wander a little and be “lost”, for you will find more along that path than one that disregards wonder.
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” While we would not see eye to eye on religion, I think morally we would be on the same ground. I find his works more morally profound than many religious scriptures. Which, in this context, is ironic considering that there is some claim to religious undertones in his pieces. Regardless of what I believe of religion as an institution, I have a vast respect for Tolkien capturing the basic moral compass that it supposedly holds. Speaking frankly, from an atheist perspective and having read the books several times, while Tolkien perhaps intended those undertones, I don’t find them to be at all religious. Similar to the quote above, it is simply common sense to me. It has nothing to do with religion but with the understanding that we all co-exist and that our actions affect others (from humans to animals to other living organisms) no matter how small. We forget that we don’t need institutions to produce morality. We are born with an innate understanding that we are all connected; but it is too soon taught to us that little things such as happiness or companionship (often intangible items) are not valuable. Instead, we see unfold in the Lord of the Rings the story of one small person whose courage is more fathomable and more valued than the brawniest of soldiers and richest of men. We often see the literal translation of greed into evil, physically and mentally encompassed in the characters. We are taught that living in your own little world is dangerous to the whole world and that we must work together.
I will conclude with the simple fact that I was awed by his works. I have yet to come across a writer that holds a light to Tolkien from my personal concept of writing. Few have touched my heart and made me dream such fantastical stories. J.R.R Tolkien was the first to inspire me to write. He was the first to teach me that good writing isn’t done in a year or even three. Like Frodo, my writing journey is a long one:
“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.”