Friday, 11 January 2013

"I'm Going on an Adventure!"

The world is not in your maps and books - it is out there... Gandalf, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I met Gandalf the other day, and he asked me to go on an adventure. And I said yes. Here’s how it came about.

I watched The Hobbit movie recently. Actually I saw it twice. It’s a beautiful movie, full of the magic and depth, great acting and integrity we’ve come to expect and love from Peter Jackson. As expected, it took me on an immersive journey through Tolkien’s marvellous world and filled me with many conflicting emotions. I felt joy, and a great wonder at the beautiful places I saw, and I was moved both to laughter and tears; heroic admiration and absolute loathing; pity and envy. But it was the envy that inspired a chain of thought that led to Gandalf knocking at my door.

It began with “Good morning!” As soon as Bilbo set his eyes on the wandering wizard I felt instant envy and exasperation. How on Middle Earth did Bilbo fail to recognise Gandalf as being somehow special? I think – my feelings not entirely rational, and surely clouded by my being privy, as someone familiar with the lore of Middle Earth, to the innumerable instances of Gandalf’s extraordinary nature… But anyway – such was my instinctive thought that it led to a fellow thought, as surely as Balin follows Dwalin. As soon as Gandalf spoke the words “I’m looking for someone to share in an adventure,” this thought makes its presence known. Pick me! Pick me! I want an adventure! Why does Bilbo hesitate? Wait -what is he saying? “Nasty unpleasant things”? What a fool! Gandalf – leave that idiot and pick me! I would jump at the chance! And this feeling persists all through the Unexpected Party. I thrill at the unfurling of the map of Erebor, and share the dwarves’ enthusiasm for the quest. Although my rational mind understands Bilbo’s demurral, I can’t help but feel that were I given the same opportunity, Gandalf would not have to ask twice.

"...laceration, evisceration - incineration?!" 
Surely the longing for adventure is an integral part of humanity? Do we not all have a part of us that longs to escape the ordinary? In history I can find many examples – too many to list – of humanity’s audacity and the glorious results of their adventures. It was in the spirit of adventure that, thousands of years ago, people paddled in tiny coracles across vast and unmapped oceans to settle in the islands of Polynesia. It was in the spirit of adventure and discovery that the wonders of the natural world and science were revealed, that we discovered how to harness electricity – that we set foot on the Moon and plumbed the crushing depths of the sea. And in story, song and legend – the inspirational tales are always of adventures… of people who go beyond the average and who dare greatly and win glory.

I have grown up on tales of adventure. I hunger for it. I dream of heroism and of discovery. Surely therefore I would not hesitate, like Bilbo, to take the opportunity – I would never be left alone in a spotless house wondering what would have happened if I had gone with the Company to the Lonely Mountain! Or would I?
The Map of the Lonely Mountain

Suddenly I considered my life and reviewed it – were there any times that I could have gone on an adventure and chose the safe option? Were there opportunities that I let slip away because of laziness… or fear? In that moment I realised – that Gandalf appears in many guises and adventures take many forms. And he comes to all of us, and many times. And I realised that all the greatest experiences and achievements in my life so far have come when I have said “yes” to the offer of an adventure. The adventure could be starting a new creative project, learning a language, travelling, starting a new job, developing a personal relationship – anything that has the potential to lift life out of the ordinary. Each adventure comes with dangers and hardships to face – risks of failure and no promise of return.

Gandalf: You'll have a tale or two to tell when you come back.
Bilbo Baggins: Can you promise that I will come back?
Gandalf: No. And if you do, you will not be the same. 

What then is the reward of adventure? I think it is a new horizon, the satisfaction of striving and of testing yourself, of discovery and – perhaps – glory and renown. At the end. If you are lucky there might also be treasure. But most important is the moving and the personal growth. Bilbo discovers bravery and cleverness, resourcefulness and hardiness within himself, and a wanderlust – qualities that he would never have known if he had not stirred from his comfortable armchair. Adventures teach us to ignore and defeat doubt, and to step outside the comfort of our hobbit-hole and to move beyond the expectations of our peers - to discover the forests and mountains, the beauty of Rivendell and the splendour of the Eyrie; to face that which we fear and face ourselves.

This was the wisdom I learned from The Hobbit, and straightaway began an adventure – starting my own creative business. Who knows what I will discover, and how it will change me, and what new horizons I will see... 

I'm going on an adventure!

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I know it, if Gandalf had asked me on an adventure I would have practically screamed, "Oh yes please! Let's leave right now!"