“Well, I’m back.”
And so are we. We have embarked on a journey through Middle Earth. We have travelled along with our companions the fellowship. We have walked to the cracks of Mount Doom. And now we are back, back in the primary reality and so is our hero, Master Samwise. And as this journey comes to an end it is easy to ask well, what now? How do we feel and what do we do?
Oftentimes, when coming to an end of a book I have been outraged, like Saskia and Leo and the listener’s to Agatha’s story, that the author would be so cruel. That they left so much seemingly unfinished, or in other cases just utterly destroyed. This rage turns to sorrow, because I felt like something that had meant so much to me was just ripped away fast and hard, and now I am left with nothing but my own contemplations. Perhaps this was how Frodo felt. The Ring had been ripped away from him, his strength had been ripped away from him, and his will to continue on in this world had been ripped away from him by this journey. He boarded a ship and sailed to the West to escape his sorrow and himself and this world. Similar to how I have locked myself in my room and refused to talk to or see people until I’ve better processed what had just happened in a book.
But there are times, when we finish a book, and it ends, and we are brought back into this world, because our time in the other world has come to an end. Both worlds must go on as they are. Such as Sam comes back to the Shire and knows that now is his time, “ to be one and whole, for many years.” He will return to the Shire, his primary reality and see in it all that is beautiful and good more vividly than he did before his journey and he will share that beauty with his children and the community. He is back. And so, we must return to our primary reality, and shed light on the hope and the beauty in the world that we occupy. We must now be better able to experience the world that we live in, not lock ourselves up and cry. We must go forth and live.
“Don’t the great tales never end?”
“No, they never end as tales,”
“What is a real end?… the end is always the most unreal bit.”
That’s because life never ends, and so stories never truly end either, there is always more to be said, and parts can extend as long as the teller sees fit. But stories must end, as they are told anyway. We cannot live in the stories we read or hear alone. Though I have often longed to live in Middle Earth, to see the land of Rivendell with my own eyes and to see the golden leaves of Lothlorien. I feel that now I understand more than ever, why I must leave. Why like the Smith, I must pass on my star and let someone else go on the journeys to Faerie. My life is in this world, and so in this world I will live.
This class has been a journey for me, and sometimes a journey that I may have wished to turn back on, to return to the happy, comfortable reading of the Lord of the Rings that I held so dear, as Bilbo wished to return to the Shire – not for the last time! – throughout his journey with the dwarves. I feel that I have learned a lot about creation and story, but sometimes I feel that I have been alienated from a story that I have always held dear. I am not a religious person, and shedding this light of religious intent on the story has made me often times wonder, if I am worthy of such a beautiful religious work. Professor Fulton Brown asked in class on Wednesday whether we felt as if we still felt as if we were inside the story or if we felt like we were outside looking in. And I couldn’t think of an answer. Not a clear-cut one, anyway. I am inside the story, I find myself inside the house of Tom Bombadil listening to his stories, I am in Rivendell watching the council of Elrond take place, I am sitting on the stairs of Cirith Ungol wondering if people will tell our tale, I am there at the end of all things, and I am glad that I am with Sam and Frodo. And while I can appreciate the statement that, “Fantasy remains a human right… because we are made, and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker,” for its beauty, I don’t know if I can believe it. And if I do not believe it, how have I really engaged in the action of sub-creation as Tolkien intended us to? I am no longer sure. I am no longer inside, but I don’t feel like I’m outside. I am standing at a doorway and all that I can think is,