One of the must see holiday movies was “The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug”. A few days before Christmas we had the chance to see it in a really nice theater in Kansas City on the Plaza. It was as cold inside as out, but the screen was enormous and that we were suffering inside our coats only added to the experience.
In the last session of Brene Brown’s ecourse on the Gifts of Imperfection she said, “Knowing that you can be brave and scared at the same time—that’s what courage really is.”
A flash of recognition erupted that explained in one sentence exactly why I am drawn to the stories of hobbits. They epitomize courage, this ability to be brave in the face of fear. These unassuming, unadorned and humble characters step outside safety into the unknown regardless of the terror that may lie in their hearts.
I sent this picture to my sister-friend Abby and she texted me back, “This pic is who you really are.” After taking quick offense that she meant I looked like a short hairy boy, I understood her point and laughed all day. She gets me. She knows that there are parts of Frodo that I long to become.
It’s not that I want to be an actual hobbit, but I recognize the nobility of the choices Frodo and Bilbo and Samwise make within the tales of Middle Earth. I aspire to live like they did, embracing adventure while shaking in their furry feet. Hearts beating with inadequacy and yet moving forward anyway. Being brave and afraid at the same time.
A college friend wrote about this exact thing when she said, “We can be braver than we think. And worn often enough, we can become the role we dress for.
Still prone to worry. To vulnerability. To fear. But braver. Braver than before.”
I continue to be drawn toward stories of characters in fiction and real people who teach this type of courage. The world is mourning over the loss of Nelson Mandela, a man who truly knew how to face fear courageously. If the highest form of flattery is imitation, how would our world look different if we walked with even a fraction of Mandela’s courage? The power to be emboldened and encouraged by other’s stories is part of the story magic available to those with eyes to see and ears to hear.
One story I’m following with fascination is that of the Oxenreiders from Oregon who are planning a year of traveling around the world. With their three children under the age of 10. While schooling on the road and working cyber-jobs as well. Now that’s gonna take some courage.
But what an adventure.
I do not weary of drawing lessons of courage from the writings of Tolkien. I think I am a Hobbit at heart. Loving my world, my Shire, yet hopefully willing to go beyond my comfortable border for the sake of a story larger than I believe possible. In the words of Pippin, to embrace “a mission … quest.. thing …” for the sake of adventure. It’s the type of story I want to write this new year and in every one thereafter. Not allowing fear to take root, but rather embracing the chance to gain something so much greater just around the corner of Unknown and Anxiety. To have the courage of a Hobbit? A worthy resolution indeed.
3 Bonuses, because I can’t resist sharing good links:
One…As cherry on top of the Lonely Mountain, here is Ed Sheeran singing “I See Fire”. I may or may not have listened to this song 30 times in the past week.
Two…One of my favorite scenes from Fellowship of the Ring: