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The Journey of Waiting

In the monkeys flying report today, I was sitting at the coffee shop this morning reading the Hobbit when someone sitting next to me said he thought Tolkien was a boring writer. I think my response to him was just, “oh, ok.” He left the shop 10 minuets later. As I watched him leave, I wondered why he thought Tolkien’s writings were boring? I guess I should have pursued his comment further.

As I thought about what he said, I guess I could see what he meant. I love The Hobbit and the Lord of The Rings, but sometimes as I’m reading them I get bored with some parts. Tolkien is long-winded and wordy. He gets really descriptive and in most of those times he is talking about the details of the journeys his characters are taking. He goes into the images and language of the cultures, people and creatures in Middle Earth. His stories seem to be rich with the historical narrative of the world in which he created.

The more I read these stories, I think I tend to enjoy the “boring moments a little more each time. I wish life could be like books, you know the ones you really like. The ones you pick up and read over and over again. Every time you pick it up, you understand the small details and the slower parts a little more each time. Soon, every time you pick it up you are able to fully take in all the parts of the story. I wonder if after we leave this life, we will be able to look at our life and the greater story we are a part of like that perhaps our life, this life will be a book one we can read over and over again? That might be cool, maybe.

The boring moments in Tolkien’s story tend to be when the main characters are in the, trudging on foot or horse parts, the moments when they are traveling on and maybe they are in the land of cornfields as far as the eye can see. (Oh no that’s when I’m traveling northern Indiana. ;)) What I know about a journey is that, when you’re on one, there are parts of it that are “boring.” The boring parts of the road or path, the parts where we are running or walking, those are the places in the story where we have to spend some time waiting.

We can do one of two things in those moments of waiting; we can pass it off as boring shit, or be in the moment, and take in the details. In those moments we can take in where we are or where we were, and we can be aware of the terrain that we journey on. Is the road wet, dry or rocky? Is it dark out or is the sun shining? Are the trees many or are you walking the path where tundra grows? Is the sun about to rise in the moment? Are they’re others on this journey with you, and do you need to help their footing over the rooted path you travel together?

Tolkien’s story is written in such a way as to bring his readers into the journey, and in a real journey there are those places where you move forward slower, maybe because you’re tired or there are things in the path that slow you down. Maybe you slow down to take in the moment or place that is in between. You may even slow down to help your travel companions over those hills. The so-called “boring” parts of the journey are the parts that eventually bring us to the end of our journey. If there were no in between times of the journey, how could we, or the story ever get anywhere? We experience the journey better when we pay attention to the details and to the parts we would have missed if we had just skipped the middle and read the end of the book.

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