"We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can’t think what anybody sees in them.” - Bilbo Baggins
When the word ‘adventure’ is spoken to the air, what enters your mind the most? Does it start with mystery and excitement? Does it instead bring uncertainty, inadequacy and lack of control into focus?
I reside somewhere in the middle but for you is it usually “yes please, now”, or “nah”.
If you were apart of the ‘adventure’ that was had in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, whether by book or film you would be familiar with it’s characters and their quirks. Bilbo I do find endearing and relate-able on a few accounts. Bilbo’s biggest problem was always lack of perspective with the outside world, living in a self actualized bubble.
Where the Shire (home) was, there he was too. A safe haven of steady gardening weather, predictable meal time and pipe smoking routine with very few surprises and certainly no influx of well wishers nor unexpected visitors during celebrations.
What happened outside these luscious green grass regions were none of his concern, thinking of such things would invoke anxiety would be dangerous to meddle with. One should only whisper of what lies beyond the border. His whole world would be changed when the beloved grey wizard Gandalf would come unannounced before him.
Known for his famous firework displays on a midsummer’s eve and pipe smoking tricks, he arrives with a different agenda and need. The need for somebody to share with him in an adventure which appropriated a title for the movie: ‘An Unexpected Journey’
This scene strikes me as both familiar and hilarious. Like me, Bilbo is wired to feel tension about change. Shuffling away back indoors at news of a calling. Locking the door away from uncomfortable situations and peeping out the window to see who noticed the weakness. He did not want to know the true meaning of courage and live it.
I gather people reading can likewise see themselves at some point in time like our hairy footed friend. When originally you have your steady life plans the way you softly mapped it, a new destiny comes to waltz with your vision and it does not always wear a pretty black dress to the ball. There are things to do, places to be, skills to learn and other peoples lives to be involved in and running from it does little except damage your character.
I am reminded of the story about Jonah in the Bible. Jonah did everything in his mortal power to avoid God’s call to his life, running and sailing away to avert direct instructions. He was thrust through a less than optimal situation taking up accommodation in the belly of the big fish where he would not survive without repentance and a change of heart.
Jonah experienced the literal example of this so that we could make use of the metaphorical application today. Something will swallow you up (e.g one or more of the 7 deadly sins) unless you surrender the true notion that your own life is not yours at all. It is purely a gift.
But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.
Bilbo has this same struggle of the avoiding initiation into a higher call. All sorts of circumstances in life come in our way to rock the boat and spit us back upon the rocky shore as with Jonah. New people enter our arena and at first glance they seem like the kind to best be avoided. Since moving from Australia to West-Yorkshire the people here often seem to have a harsh sense of humor. The skill of ‘banter’ is currency.
Ribbing people is apart of the culture that knits you together. I’ll admit it has tested my mental metal over the years but eventually I developed a skill of being tougher to it and taking equal part in somebody else misfortune. It is hard to own up that these are often the best kinds of friends in the end. My weak mental points were often exposed but strengthened after reflection and action.
Renew your vows for adventure my friends. Incline your ear to the community that surrounds you and seek the good of it. People need you, people need me to be a player in the game. There is your version of a ‘Fellowship of The Ring’ that you are meant to be in. The side-lines are good for resting but not for the entire match.