Tolkien Ponderings

How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart, you begin to understand, there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep…that have taken hold.

J.R.R. Tolkien

So… During my time at field base during phase one, I have been delighted to get engrossed in several tv series and movies. Most excitingly being the extended versions of The Lord of the rings trilogy of which I have never seen before and have just finished watching tonight.


I am a big fan of the movies. Having read the books I can safely say that unlike countless other book to film adaptions, Peter Jackson has excelled in bringing the genius of Tolkien’s written word to life. And just like that sad and bizarrely lost feeling that may assemble within ones self at the end of reading an incredibly good book; this feeling is replicated -for me anyway- at the end of watching these interpretations and adaptions of such great literature. Not something that can be said for many films I have watched that have been adapted to screenplay from books.


I highly expect that for every book there are millions of interpretations. Differing from one person to another. Ideas of characters that form in your head so clearly that the reason you are so disappointed when it comes to watching the adapted screen play is because they never quite really do your own imaginations justice. I know this is stating the obvious, but even now, beyond 10 years since the fellowship of the ring was released into your local movie theatre, I continue to be amazed at the films’ sheer brilliance in matching so many of my own portrayals of characters within them.


I’m not intentionally doing a review here. But it has to be said that the extended versions do piece together a lot more of the story. Admittedly there are parts that are still missed: Saruman being killed off too early, Frodo and sam returning to the shire that is seemingly untainted by the other goings on around middle earth…


….And this is what got me thinking. Not just about the movies, but about life, and the inevitable changes and the inevitable parts of life that stay the same and what happens when we come home.


Particularly it got me thinking about the situation I am in. Being far from home, on an adventure of my own, seeing and experiencing new things every day.


I vividly remember (having experienced travel during my gap year and last year of uni) telling anyone who was about to go travel for the first time, and in particular to my brother Sam who has just returned from living in Chicago for a year; that they are to make the most of it, don’t miss home too much! embrace the new world, as upon arrival back home not much seems to have changed when you return. Within a week you’ll be back to feeling like that last period of your life/travel is so far away and feels almost like it didn’t happen. Or that at the least it suddenly feels like a very short space of time in which you were away.


I think I mentioned in a previous blog from America this sense/feeling that everything and nothing changes all at once.


As soon as you land back home you are transported back to the last time you were there, the last time you saw your friends down the pub, albeit a month or a year; suddenly that space in between is squashed. No one at home has had that same experience as you, you can talk about it, sure, but really you’ll be back to talking about life as you/they know it. Who’s going out with who, what happened last Saturday etc etc


The same feeling occurs whilst you are actually away. You may be experiencing and doing all these new crazy fun things but when it comes to contact with home and friends and loved ones, you tend to talk about the last time you saw each other, or even, bizarrely start planning for the next time you’ll see each other.


Those people at home cannot always relate to what you have experienced and therefore can only contribute by filling in the gaps of what’s happened while you have been away.


The truth is, or rather, what I have realised is that everything really has changed. Predominantly because you have changed. The depth of change can be subtle and even take a long time to reveal itself in your habits, lifestyle or indeed physicality and thoughts.


At the end of the return of the king movie you see samwise stroll up to Rosie (who he has fancied since the fellowship of the ring – if not before) and pretty much marry her. Something that he had not the strength nor courage to do before. We see Frodo leave the shire, a longing adventurous spirit that has always been there, but perhaps he has always felt held back by family duties and the fact that he has such great friends in the shire. We see Aragorn go from the little confidence in himself due to the failings of previous members of his bloodline to then becoming the king of all men on middle earth. All because of the building up of experiences they had whilst they were away.


I’m not saying I’m going to return to the UK and with a new found sense of confidence and courage seek out prince harry -who i am obviously destined to be with- who will fall madly in love with me and marry me so i become a princess….but what I am saying is that being away from your norm, from your routine, from the expectations of your ‘world’, well it personally makes me feel really alive.


Never do you feel your mortality as much as you do as when you are away from the normal perhaps task based existence of your day to day life at ‘home’.


I tend to look back a lot on my life, like what I could have done, what I could of said, what situations I would have avoided if I could go back. Therefore when I look forward I tend to want to know what is coming. Planning and scheming in my head a perfect picture of how things are going to pan out.


I can’t really do that here. A good reason being because i don’t yet have a return flight or have figured out where I am going next!

Certain situations arose before I left that left me confused and with a lot to think about. When I spoke to a friend out here about this, he listened and then said to me that I can’t be in two places. If my body is here and my mind is somewhere else, then really I am not doing this experience justice. Nothing can be done about left behind situations or perhaps dilemmas until they come to fruition once again. IE there is nothing I can do about what happens when I return right now. Even planning and talking about it leads to dissatisfaction, impatience and to be honest non realistic future intent and gestures.


I am here, present in Borneo. And here I must absorb.


How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart, you begin to understand, there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep…that have taken hold.


This quote from the film end by Frodo is what set me up on this blog rambling. I don’t associate many things from home with hurt or regret. And those that I do i have learnt from and would never put myself in those situations again. But I can relate to the ‘no going back’ part. For the context in which I return from whatever new experiences I have in life (not just travel) back to home mean that I will never quite be the same or back to who I was before.


It’s probably the middle if the afternoon back in the UK and this is the deep ramblings of me, the other side of the world at 11pm, tired and having just been thrust back into the reality where hobbits, rings of power and elves don’t exist.


So with not wanting to sound too much more like a complete lord of the rings geek, which I wouldn’t say I was…


I’m not sure if there is really a conclusion to this one. To conclude would be to conform to the fact that these thoughts of mine are over. But really they are happening all the time.


My brain hurts. I’m going to sleep…


It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.




There is something about visiting a place in the world that you have read about in a story. Currently I’m sitting on a balcony at La Push overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Those of you who have read the infamous ‘twilight’ saga will know exactly where I am. Those of you that haven’t read them; well you should. 




Before books are made into movies, You picture them in a certain way. You envisage each and every character; most likely based on people you know or have met, simply because of the way that the author describes them. It is only natural that you mirror characters in stories with those characters that are in your every day life. It is how you come to relate to them. Similarly, if you can’t relate a character to someone you know, you can mirror their experiences with your own, or some of your own, and therefore can imagine yourself as a character or at least relate to parts of what a character is going through. 


A good author will be able to create new characters and new scenes, and create a world in which you can feel totally and utterly present within. So much so that when you go to visit the place in which the story is set, you feel like you have already been there. In a sense, driving through forks and then down to La push beach, I felt like I was going back to a place I already knew, and indeed, in a certain way it was like coming home. 


Immediately I am placing the world I created within the authors world all around me. I’m imagining that the story actually occurred and that I am visiting the place as some kind of pilgrimage to somewhere with a definite real history created from the book.


Of course vampires and werewolves don’t exist. And the cynical members of my audience of readers may think it ridiculous that Sarah and I chose forks as a place to go to for a weekend. In fact there were several scoffs from people when we said we were going to come here. This I can only imagine is because of the pretentious Hollywood hype that surrounded the movies themselves. 


And yet, apart from the odd burger bar that offers the ‘bella’ burger, and the shops that sell official movie merchandise; on the facade of it all, and unlike any other place I’ve visited in the USA that has a history or natural beauty; it is relatively untouched by the human need to hype it up or make it a gigantic theme park. There are no casinos or lit up streets with fake lighting. There are no swarms and swarms of tourists, and basically just no obvious tackiness. 




This peninsula is one of the most stunning places I have ever been. It probably helps that today has been a beautifully sunny day. But regardless, even in the pouring down rain, this place would still be beautiful. The drive from Seattle to here took around three hours. Although we did miss our turning to La push and wondered some 30 miles south of our destination. The roads become single track halfway along the journey, and these roads meander their way along lake shores and on the other side teeter along the edge of massive expanses of rain forests and in the distance are high snow capped mountains and eventually the glimmer of the Pacific Ocean.  




One of the reasons I believe we can come to terms with ‘different’ is because of literature. A poem, a song, a story, a book that are set in another location allows us (upon reading them) to feel like we are not just a visitor in that place. But an inhabitant. 


With my upcoming trip to Borneo, I am therefore inclined to start really reading about the place and its history in order to better acclimatise myself to the foreign location that it is inevitably going to be.


I had that experience last night that people only seem to ever experience in movies. You know the movie where you sit next to a complete stranger on a plane or a train or a bus and then end up talking for hours and hours telling each other stories about the most in depth parts of your life. Like the proper personal stuff, and the couple just seem to click from the word go. And then in the movie they fall in love and then somehow after the journey finishes the two people manage to find their way back to each other over a period of time. Sometimes a week, sometimes a year or two, but the whole rest of the film becomes about how they end up meeting up again or staying in touch and becoming part of each others lives and falling in love.


Anyway I sat next to Alex. Weirdly he had just been to the electric forest festival in Michigan for the weekend. Which is where I had been with Sam and camille. We obviously didn’t bump into each other there. There were tens of thousands of people. But yeah; as I walked into union station in Chicago to get my 2 day train to Seattle, he was the person I first saw to ask whether the line he was in was the line for the train B13. It was…


Then we continued to queue in silence. The guy scanning our tickets gave us respective coloured tickets dependent on our final destination was. The coloured tickets represented the carriages we were to go to. Me and Alex were put in the same carriage. We then sat pretty much opposite each other on either side of the train. The attendant came through who told us we were both sat in seats designated for people travelling in groups of 2 persons or more, and we’d need to move at some point to being in the right section otherwise she may have to move us in the middle of the night at a random station where a group got on. We said we’d both move later on. And then after she was gone Alex mentioned that we should just become a group ourselves. And so we did.


That’s basically the story of how the moment occurred. But yeah. He was getting off at 2am at a stop called staples, Minnesota. We talked pretty much the whole journey and it was awesome. I most definitely fell in love with the moment and the situation and it is by far the best ever experience I have had of meeting someone on a train before in my life. Any explanation of why or what we spoke about, wouldn’t give the occasion justice. I hope some day we’ll see each other again. In the semi likelihood that we won’t. I think it’s pretty safe to say I fell in love for a night. And now here I am continuing on my journey to Seattle with an empty seat next to me, most definitely feeling like I’m in a movie and wondering what got written next.


Every time you go to a place you have been to before, new things happen, new experiences occur and therefore a new opinion about a place forms in your mind.   I first visited the USA on a family holiday to my grandparents place in Hilton head island in South Carolina. I was a baby, […]