May it be an evening star
Shines down upon you
May it be when darkness falls
Your heart will be true
You walk a lonely road
Oh, how far you are from home
I think the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life was when I was in middle school and discovering The Lord of the Rings for the first time. Hot on the heels of my earlier adventures in Narnia, I picked up The Hobbit in 5th grade and it was a done deal for me. The Lord of the Rings was the biggest book I’d ever owned and I was so happy-nerd-proud when I started it the next year. Slapped on the cover was a little red sticker excitedly exclaiming: SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE.
I didn’t see The Fellowship of the Ring on opening day. I just had no idea. I went with a giant group of middle school nerds, and those are the days I miss the most: piling into someone’s Mom’s car and heading to the Mall of Georgia to go to the fucking movies. I would give anything for some popcorn and a Cherry Coke right now.
I remember specifically that Katy Wright was there and I don’t think Katy Wright and I saw a lot of movies together at the time, BUT: I remember more the feeling in my soul as I watched fireworks illuminating the Shire for the first time and I remember this deep, intense, painful longing to BE A PART OF THIS.
Look, I was already a BIG OLD NERD when LotR entered my life, okay? I played Star Wars and Harry Potter on the playground in elementary school, I wrote Sailor Moon fan poetry, I have always been a geek. I have never doubted or denied that piece of myself. But there was something different about the way Lord of the Rings, and specifically the film series, landed on me. What I remember loving most were all the behind-the-scenes-features. All the pranks and love among the cast and crew. I remember trying to watch Lost a few years later and just feeling heartbroken that my beloved Dominic Monaghan wasn’t with his fellow Hobbit besties.
BECAUSE THEY’RE ACTUAL BESTIES, RIGHT?
That piece of it meant so much to me: those actors being actual friends. It had just never occurred to me before as a child theatre nerd. What I loved best in the world was coming up with stories and acting them out with my best friends. I didn’t know that was something you could have as an adult human creature. My mind was thoroughly blown. I was even more gobsmacked by reading about the life and career of director Peter Jackson. Someone who, as a kid, wanted there to be a Lord of the Rings movie and so, eventually, HE MADE IT HAPPEN HIMSELF.
What I learned about the making of the Lord of the Rings films was this: Being excited and weird and making cool stuff is all possible and it’s even better if you do it with your friends.
This year totally sucks. I don’t get to really make art with my friends right now and I fucking hate it. I feel weird, but not terribly excited. There are no big nerd movies coming to theatres in December, no excuse for me to get dressed up with my friends and shove popcorn into my face in the darkness.
I don’t know how to relax, because relaxing feels like quitting. And I am so fucking exhausted. I don’t watch or read Lord of the Rings anymore, even though I suspect I would have a very nice time. I don’t really watch or read anything anymore. I’m still chasing those lessons from childhood, trying so desperately and hoping each morning that today’s the day I wake up and have MY Big Idea That Will Change Everything.
My best friend tonight asked me about what sounded relaxing, because, again, I am really struggling. I think a Baggins-style life might be nice: enjoying my food and drink and stories until an adventure shows up at my door.
But so far I can’t settle. (It’s the Took in me, I suppose.) I twitch and tingle and I feel like I need to be DOING THINGS ALL THE TIME AND WRITING IT ALL DOWN BECAUSE MAYBE THIS TIME I WILL CAPTURE SOMETHING TRULY GREAT AND MAYBE I CAN CHANGE SOMEONE’S LIFE THE WAY PETER JACKSON CHANGED MINE BECAUSE THAT’S OBVIOUSLY THE ONLY LIFE WORTH LIVING RIGHT?
I’m very tired.
My bestie makes a very good point. (She is very wise.) So, I might try tomorrow. To just enjoy things, to just settle a little bit, to try to erase some of the imaginary finish lines I’ve drawn for myself. I don’t want to be a failure or a disappointment to anyone. But these are promises I’ve only made to myself and I can always make new ones.
I don’t know what I’m doing, friends. I don’t know where to go.
“Not all those who wander are lost.”
Thank fucking God.