A far green country

Sometimes, you know, occasionally, I feel sad. Indescribably, often inexplicably despondent. Life seems too much and too little; I can’t breathe; my soul sinks down into my stomach, and stays there. I’ve toyed and Web-MD’ed with the idea that I have some mild form of depression or an anxiety disorder. Maybe I do.

But it doesn’t really matter, because this post isn’t about what gets me down, its about what gets me up again. I’ve been dealing with these sad spells for a long time, from when I was about 14-15 I think. I’ve obviously had to come up with a coping mechanism or I’d be a manic-depressive nutcase by now (no offence intended, of course these are serious problems, I don’t really mean nutcase etc etc).

Its Tolkien, for me. Friends, yes. Family, yes. Books, yes. Movies, yes. TV, yes, yes and yes. But above all this is the first world I fell deeply and eternally in love with: Middle Earth. Its not a love that’s just literary or fan girl-ish or whatever. Those things exist, of course, separately. I do own posters and write fan-fiction and know all of the lines. This is more spiritual than that. Its my happy place. Curling up with The Hobbit or any of the LoTR books or movies is comfort food for my soul. When that black chasm of despair seems to appear in front of me — this is not an exaggeration —  when I’m searching for a point and can’t find anything, I close my eyes and conjure up the feeling I first had when I read LoTR. It was a slow, steady discovery. I knew I was going to love it, and I did. It’s that feeling of being 14 and a door opens up inside your brain and your heart. You didn’t even know there was this emotion in you, there was this capacity to wonder and imagine, and there it is. And I guess that’s what Lord of the Rings represents. Its my ability to dream, to imagine so clearly a world that does not exist that it then does. As long as I have that, I know I’ll be fine. Loneliness, failure, rejection, heartbreak; everything horrible that life throws at you can be chased away by a really good story, really well told. Its my patronus, my shining silver guardian angel against depression.

Don’t you dare tell me its unhealthy; its the healthiest defense mechanism on earth. It can’t be taken away from me, by anyone or anything. It always will exist, to pull me up and cheer me up and remind me what I enjoy and inspire me to create something beautiful of my own.

That scene with Gandalf and Pippin (it isn’t really even in the books) is the closest I ever came to feeling religious, and is the only after life I ever imagined. I know Tolkien intended it as a very much literal allusion to the after life. I’m not Christian, I don’t take it literally. To me it’s more of a symbolic faith that there is a space in all our minds where there’s beauty, and nothing external that happens to us can ever destroy that. Gandalf’s words, to me, ring profoundly true.

There’s another quote from the books, by Sam (I think its in the movies as well, in the extended version):

There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tower high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach

It’s from Return of the King. Not bad, eh? No. Not bad at all.

 

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5 Responses to A far green country

  1. Ms Mond says:

    Oh my gosh, me too me too!!! 😀
    I screwed up in my finals and got rejected by my uni, resulting in an involuntary gap year. Pretty bad eh? It sure wasn’t a cause for celebration.
    But LOTR really gave me hope, because of all the inspirational moments in the movies. Sounds cheesy, but I’m hoping you can relate 😛
    I actually think using a good story to calm yourself down is really healthy. Depression is unhealthy, and anything that drives it away has to be good (apart from drugs and alcohol).
    Really well expressed post. Thanks for sharing, and I’m glad someone out there thinks like me too.

    • ravencarter says:

      Ah! A fellow secret Middle Earth-er. I absolutely can relate! A little bit of cheesiness is always recommended, I think. I’m so sad to hear about your troubles, and I’m glad Tolkien was able to help you out. He’s certainly helped me when I’ve been down several times. People can’t understand it, because to them it’s just a movie/book, but there’s something just magical about LOTR. To me and you, at least! 🙂
      Do you have a favourite LOTR comfort moment?
      Thank you so much for the kind words! You’re my first comment so I’m extra pleased 🙂

  2. Ms Mond says:

    Yay! 😀 My favourite LOTR comfort moment… hrmmm gosh there are loads. Obviously the part where Sam goes “There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.” Or the battle of Helm’s Deep (the never-give-up! message is really clear there). Or the “I never thought I’d die fighting side by side with an elf!” “How about fighting side by side with a friend?”
    I really like Eowyn too, she makes me feel happy.
    Oh, I decided to make an extra category for fellow LOTR fans like yourself on my blog, so if you want to check out my LOTR based posts then they’re heere 😀
    http://thegapyearchallenge.wordpress.com/category/lord-of-the-rings-2/
    Finally, is this your only LOTR based post so far?

    • ravencarter says:

      Oh I love all those moments! Especially Sam’s speech, the one about goodness in the world. Eowyn is my favourite LOTR character! That moment when she whips off her helmet and goes ‘I am no man!’ is the single most epic female empowerment moment in fantasy, I think.
      I’ve already checked out your blog, I think it’s great! I really like all your posts about women’s issues and rape,and I agree with you completely. I’m going to read all your LOTR posts now x
      Yes, this is my only LOTR post! There will be more, I’m very sure. My blog is really unorganized right now. I should sort it out now that I know I have at least one reader!

      • Ms Mond says:

        I agree, ARG Eowyn and how she killed the Witch-King. Leads back to how Tolkien modeled the unlikely-hero character type that’s so prevalent in LOTR.
        Thanks for checking out my blog : )
        Great, don’t give up blogging, there are some pretty cool people on WordPress. I’ll be keeping an eye out for any LOTR posts you publish : )

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