You can say that I was lost this past weekend…lost amongst the pages of my books.
Memorial Day weekend. I was thinking that I would go on some adventurous road trip where my itinerary would be determined by the whims of the moment. But sometimes plans, even spontaneous ones, don’t come to fruition. Instead, I did get to do something I have never done before, I read The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.
I love to read, and reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings stories were on my list. I had bought the books a couple months ago, but hadn’t had the time. This weekend I was going to rest, cuddle up in bed, and read. Rather than getting lost on the road, I was happily lost in the words of Tolkien.
I have all kinds of lists: travel, restaurants, adventures, and books. My 50 Weeks to 50 list includes parts of all those lists. As I’ve said before, lists of things we want to do don’t always have to be big grandiose plans. The little accomplishments all add up. For me, reading is a simple pleasure that I treasure (I read all day at the office, which is not a simple pleasure). And I love finding stories that highjack your attention away from life’s daily chores.
Tolkien’s stories did just that. I could not put The Hobbit down. I quickly read about Bilbo’s adventures (I may need to re-read in the future). I especially loved the section where he matches wits with Gollum and then discovers the power of the ring. As soon as I finished reading The Hobbit, I picked up the much thicker and heavier The Lord of the Rings and continued the journey. This will take me longer to read, as my copy is over a 1,000 pages, plus it’s it’s back to work and weeknight meetings, and as of this writing I am still reading the book.
I know that I will enjoy the adventures of Frodo, who starts his journey at the age of 50. How appropriate that I would be reading these stories at this time. So far I am even more enraptured by Tolkien’s words. I love books that make you react as if you are in the pages yourself. As Frodo and his group are being chased, trying to get away, my heart pounds too. Or when they are lingering too long discussing what to do, I’m yelling at them “what are you waiting for, get out of there!” Or when they have the instinct that something is watching them, I go around and make sure drapes and blinds are closed, windows are locked, and shut my bedroom door. When Gandalf returns, I am happy too — everyone loves a wise old wizard. And when there are hints of any romance between characters (since there are hardly any women in the story so far), my heart thinks how sweet is young love.
I feel it is a treasure when people can find escape in such simple pleasures as reading. I can’t be transported to the pages of Middle Earth, or back in time to the middle ages, or even forward to the future (I don’t have one of those special DeLoreans), but I can experience fantasy adventures through reading. You can be any age and still be able to climb tall mountains or explore far off galaxies.
Once I am done reading The Lord of the Rings, then I will allow myself to watch the movies. I try to read the books prior to watching the movies, because I don’t want my imagination to be influenced by what others think. (I did this with the Harry Potter books – once the last book was written, I purchased a full set and read them all in one week – the kids were on summer break and they thought I was crazy. Then I watched all the movies made at that time.) Let me visualize the characters and the settings for myself first, and later be surprised by another viewpoint. And both can be right.
Adventures can be found in many corners, it’s all about attitude. Even reading can be a wonderful journey if you let it. I find that discovering stories and an author that excites your soul is something to cherish. Let’s see what else Tolkien has written…
Notebook: Tolkien, J.R.R. (John Ronald Reuel), The Hobbit, George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1937
Tolkien, J.R.R., The Lord of the Rings, George Allen & Unwin Ltd., Three Volumes: The Fellowship of the Ring, 1954; The Two Towers, 1954; and The Return of the King, 1955.