Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Hobbit and Adventures

Midnight showings are the best. This past week, half of the Axis staff went to the midnight showing of the Hobbit, where entertainment began well before the movie’s first scene. We arrived nearly two hours early and already the auditorium was packed with elves, hobbits, Darth Vader (oops), and one dragon. In the small open area in front of the screen we enjoyed several tumbling passes by a couple of gymnasts followed by a group of elvish Christmas carolers, a “fife-off” as Daniel Giddings (Axis Team Director) called it, and one epic accident. A teenage male with a flat-brimmed Yankees cap decided to do a back-flip, and most likely broke his leg – we’ll just leave it at that.

But this blog is not about the events before the movie, this blog is about a specific theme within the movie itself.

Apathy to action.

Don’t click off the screen yet. I know that we are Axis and we are always talking about apathy to action, but if you’ve read the book or seen the movie you know that this is a valid take-away from the story. Let me explain.

At the beginning of the Hobbit we meet Bilbo Baggins, a rather successful Hobbit, at least as Hobbits go. He had one of, if not, the nicest and most comfortable Hobbit-holes in the Shire. His pantry was full of delicious foods, he smoked a nice handcrafted wooden pipe, and lived a routine that was both relaxing and void of those nasty things called adventures. In every way he was happy, and I would argue not doing anything wrong. In other words, this story is not a story of realizing the evil in one’s life and changing. This is the story of a normal Hobbit, doing normal Hobbit things, without realizing that life has so much more to offer him. (kind of sounds like us, doesn’t it)

In quick summary, Bilbo’s life is turned upside down by a wizard and a very large group of energetic and hungry dwarves who are recruiting him for an adventure. Although there’s a look in Bilbo’s eye of curiosity, he is adamantly opposed to joining their journey. With the persuasiveness of the wizard, and in response to his gut – Bilbo decides to go for it.

One of the stronger lines in the movie is where Gandalf says, “the world is not found in your maps and compasses, Bilbo. The world is out there.” (paraphrase)

By the end of the movie and throughout the book we see Bilbo becoming a very different Hobbit than he was in his comfortable life back home. And this is where the theme of apathy to action comes in.

Bilbo could have kept living his life as a Hobbit, and wouldn’t have necessarily been doing anything wrong or evil by staying in his Hobbit-hole. But it took the adventure of a treacherous journey and noble mission for Bilbo to finally become all that he could be. Bilbo could not have imagined or cultivated the ability and talent that was within him from his armchair.

The same can be said of us. Take away the Hobbit-hole and replace it with the American dream, replace the wooden pipe with a television, and instead of an armchair picture a couch. Are we, in essence, Hobbits? Do we pursue a comfortable and relaxing life over the adventure of making a difference in the world?

While I was watching the movie, I couldn’t help but think about my own life. When Bilbo was sitting their eating his artisan meal of grilled fish with fresh lemons – I pictured myself handcrafting a latte with homemade syrups and the perfect espresso shot. And when Gandalf told Bilbo that the world is not found in his maps and compasses, but out there – I couldn’t help but picture the adventures that I try to experience through movies and books instead of actually living an adventure myself.

I don’t know about you, but my life often feels apathetic and distracted. I look around and see people who seem to be making an impact, but I look at my life and feel like, well, a Hobbit. But I have a hunch that it’s not because adventure is dead, but because I don’t search for it.  

What do you think? Do you find it hard to live an adventure? What do you think keeps us from experiencing a true adventure?

By: Daniel Day