If there is anything that the stories of Tolkien (captured so magically in the Lord Of The Rings film trilogy and so terribly in the recent Hobbit prequel, in this writer’s opinion,) can teach us, it is that there is a place in the world, be it the real one or a fantasy, for every type of person. It also teaches us the importance of the small, quiet, homely type of people, such as hobbits, and the endless strength and courage these small people can carry within them. It also tells us how important adventures are, enjoyable or not.
It comes to my mind now how Tolkien’s experiences in the war against the Nazi invasion of Europe were the springboard for the great tales he wove about Middle Earth, specifically in Lord Of The Rings, but also The Hobbit, where ordinary, small people have to go on a journey and face a great enemy, finding in themselves reserves of courage and strength which ultimately help good to conquer evil. Let me lay this out here that, when referring to my own hobbit-ness, I am not comparing myself to such people.
(Let me also say while I have your ear that this is the reason I was so disappointed by the apparent lack of care or grace that went into making the Hobbit prequel after the opposite had happened in the making of the LOTR trilogy. Geek-rant over.)
But I do want to talk to you of my hobbit-ness, which I have discovered on this tale of there and (fingers crossed) back again that I have undertaken over the past six months. I love home and the comforts of home but, like Bilbo, I needed to go on an adventure to, I guess, find out more about myself (although Bilbo finds out more about the world, but you get the idea, we were both on a journey of discovery.) My mind turns to home now and I realise that, despite the joys of the world, I love home so very much.
I have been lucky enough to find the most amazing Yoga centre here in Victoria. I have completely fallen in love with Yoga and practice it almost daily. I don’t want to go on about it too much (I’d never do that...) but I just want to say that it has helped me to discover so much about myself. Not just my physical self, but my inner self too.
My most recent class focused on the heart-centre, the place in your body just below the meeting of your ribs and just above your diaphragm, which is said, in Yoga, to be where your self resides. It is your home, it is where life lives, in Sanskrit it is called the ‘hrt’, pronounced like a whisper on the roll of your tongue.
To my mind then, to love your home is to love your self. For that is truly where your home is, it resides within you. You carry it with you wherever you go, and the home you create in a house or a flat or a hobbit hole is actually just a physical representation of your inner home, an extension of yourself.
Doing yoga has helped me to find love for myself. But that is a rather personal journey that I am still on, still discovering that love and a little reluctant to talk of it (mostly due to my Britishness) but in doing so I am starting to handle my depression better, and starting to ease off a little on myself. But, when I talk of easing off, I talk of it because I was inspired to by my recent decision about the rest of my journey.
It is my tendency to pile far too much on my shoulders (which may explain why one of them dislocates so readily.) This was perhaps brought to light when I began making plans to go travelling. After ‘easing off’ by ruling out a lone jaunt to Asia and going for Canada instead, I then decided I simply had to go to the Arctic and the Yukon, perhaps two of the most rugged and intense places in this generally rugged country.
Now, that’s not to say I’m not glad I went to these places. The Yukon was one of the most amazing places I have ever been to, and I feel so lucky to have travelled to the remote Arctic and experienced the 24 hour sunlight of the Arctic summer (thank god I eased off enough on myself to get out of there before the 24 hour darkness though.) However, I think part of the reason why I went there was this tendency I have for ‘all or nothing’ (which usually results in nothing.)
I think I realised this tendency the most during Yoga when at first I would attempt the most extreme forms of the poses and stretches even though my beginner’s body couldn’t manage them without pain or discomfort, two things you are never supposed to experience in Yoga (and hence part of the reason I like it so much.) I realised how tough I am on myself and found that by easing off I actually was able to gain more benefits from the poses as I enjoyed the tingling sensation of the long stretches and eased my body into a higher state flexibility and strength.
The reason I started doing yoga is because I have been experiencing various bodily ailments since I came to Canada, most of all chronic lower back pain. There are various reasons due to long-term health complications that I think I have this back pain (not least having one leg shorter than the other!) but I won’t bore you with them. Anyway, my feeling is that in order to become pain free in my lower back I am going to have to begin a long-term course of some sort of physical therapy, I.E. not something I can do here in Canada (you have to be a resident in BC for at least 6 months to qualify for free healthcare.) So essentially this means coming home sooner than the Summer, which was my original plan.
It was my intention to really do America. You know, all of America. I even wanted to try and get to the Polynesian islands of Hawaii. When I realised I’d have to come home sooner and couldn’t save up enough money for a mega USA jaunt I went from ‘all’ mode into ‘nothing’ mode and, miserably, looked into flights home.
And then I gave myself some time, looked into my hrt, and realised there was an easier way, and that coming home is in fact something this hobbit is particularly excited about and should not be done at the wrong time, or for the wrong reasons, because it is a good thing.
I eased off on my plans for the States, I found a way to still see the places I most want to see without having to save up the copious amounts of money that my original ‘all-out’ plan had required. It also means I get to come home in March (yes that’s right, Mum,) which is perfect. Not too far away that I ache and am miserable about how long I have to wait, but not too close that is an untimely and unwanted end to my big adventure. I am very excited, both about the journey through the States (which is still managing to be suitably epic,) and the return home. Home.
And I suppose the connection between this sense of ease and being a hobbit is that the things hobbits value, such as home and comfort and...oh, I don’t know, peace and quiet and good tilled earth, are often dismissed in our culture. They are thought of disdainfully as being easy. But I am starting, actually finishing realising that ease is a virtue, not a vice. It is the way through, the balance of Yin and Yang, the way that is not the struggle of Yang nor the inactivity of Yin. It is the easiest way, I suppose, rather than the easy way, if that makes sense? It is also the Yogic way, and the Hobbit way, which ties this all together rather nicely.