Here we are at the second installment of my review of The Hobbit. Last time, we left off with Bilbo being decidedly opposed to adventures in any form, even the intrustion of 13 dwarves and a wizard into his little hole in the hill.
He awoke the next morning to an empty house. It was quite easy to pretend that he had never agreed to be join the dwarfish troop as their burglar. With the timely intervention by Gandalf, Bilbo is rushed out the door to the rendezvous point with ten minutes to spare. Luckily for the hobbit, the wizard showed up later with a large supply of clean handkerchiefs and tobacco.
After a month of pleasant traveling conditions, the weather steadily grew rainy and miserable. Provisions began to run low; a pony nearly drowned in a river, causing the rest of the food to be washed downstream. That evening, they happened upon a campsite. Drenched and hungry, the dwarves send in Bilbo as a scout. The campsite is occupied by three large, irascible trolls. Bilbo is caught attempting to pick the pockets of one troll, and his companions are caught in the midst of the rescue mission. As trolls despise the very appearance of dwarves, they immediately plomped sacks on each of their heads before tying them up.
Next came the discussion of how to cook the pesky dwarves. Roast them on a spit? Mince and boil them? Confusion reigned until the sun rose over the horizon, causing the trolls to turn to stone. It turns out that the faux-Dumbledore had been the source of the confusion, casting his voice like a puppeteer in order to divert the trolls attention away from their victims.
The group pillages the Troll’s lair, finding food and gold. On to Rivendell.
1. Be flexible. And realistic.
“‘Don’t be so precise,’ said Dwalin, ‘and don’t worry!'”
If you are anything like me, you are detail-oriented and a control-freak. Chill out. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t be so worried about getting it perfect that you miss how the imperfections make it better.
“Bilbo was sadly reflecting that adventures are not all pony-rides in May-sunshine.”
Adventures sound fun and glorious. I always thought they were… until I embarked upon my own. Not knowing where your adventure will take you is a trying time indeed, but if it was all planned out down to the last second, it wouldn’t be an adventure.
Let it go, and go along with it.
2. Be prepared.
“For just at that moment the light came over the hill, and there was a mighty twitter in the branches. William never spoke for he stood turned to stone as he stooped; and Bert and Tom were stuck like rocks as they looked at him. And there they stand to this day, all alone, unless the birds perch on them; for trolls, as you probably know, must be underground before dawn, or they go back to the stuff of the mountains they are made of, and never move again.”
The best bit that I can glean from this is that if you are a troll, and you know that you can’t be in the sunshine without turning into a chunk of rock, then you should probably keep an eye on your watch. Maybe even set an alarm for ten minutes to sunrise. Just a thought.
3. Look around every once in a while.
“‘Where did you go to, if I may ask?’ said Thorin to Gandalf as they rode along.
‘To look ahead,’ said he.
‘And what brought you back in the nick of time?’
‘Looking behind,’ said he.
‘Exactly!’ said Thorin; ‘but could you be more plain?'”
Life is all a tricky balance of learning from your mistakes and preparing for the future, yet not getting so wrapped up in either one that you forget the present. I’m thankful that the path ahead of me has been well prepared by Another, and that my steps leading up to this point have been His doing as well. I do not need to look ahead or behind, for my present is never a backup plan, but the perfect original.
Next time: Chapter 3, ‘A Short Rest,’ and Chapter 4, ‘Over Hill and Under Hill’
(Source: J.R.R Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Ballantine Books, 1937)