Seven years old. I was a mere seven years old when I was first fortunate enough to experience the life-altering magic of Middle Earth through the eyes of Peter Jackson. When you’re seven, Middle Earth and Real Earth have about nothing in common, and at 23 I sometimes still only dream about being surrounded by the ethereality of places like the Shire without a care in the world besides making sure I had second breakfast on time. I know now that Middle Earth emulates Real Earth in ways that are difficult to swallow -- both are places bound with darkness and frequent sorrows that seem to constantly overwhelm their beauty. Anyone who has known me for more than 20 minutes probably knows that I hold Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings in the same hyper-sacred regard as the oxygen that keeps us breathing – I need it to survive. The characters that live in the trilogy have become some of my dearest friends over the sixteen years that I’ve known them, their stories of unconditional bravery in the face of fear saving my life time and time again.
I’m no hero, but I find myself relating the most to Frodo as of late. I feel heavy, scared, and the longer I carry these burdens, the less of myself I become. I am surrounded by people who would never let me trek to Mordor on my own, despite their inability to swim (Lembas bread to those who recognized that reference) and despite my eagerness to go alone. The truth is, Frodo would have never made it to Mordor without his Fellowship, and I will never make it through this world without mine. It never made Frodo any weaker; it only meant he was better able to handle the weight that was his alone to carry.