The Fellowship of the Ring – How Joining Tolkien’s Fandom Changed my Life

Hey there,

Sorry  for the silence on here. The last week and a half have been chaos and madness, and things are just starting to quiet down and go back to normal. As such, I’m taking advantage of sitting in silence with a book or closing my eyes for a few moments to give myself a little compassion and self-care. Rarely has my computer been open, which means writing has been neglected.

Along that journey of chaos, I made the decision to begin rereading Lord of the Rings. I chose this world in particular because I wanted something I would feel no pressure or expectation to read (it’s not an ARC, I don’t need to write a review because it’s been read by me before, I know what I’m getting into, etc) because I needed to just take it easy and take it slow. And boy, am I glad I chose LOTRs, because now I’ve fallen back in love with the world and I have no desire to climb out of it! I’m obsessed! But let us have a look at LOTRs through my life…

My obsession first began when I was in the sixth grade. My favourite teacher – Mr. Lefaive – read the class The Hobbit every day after lunch recess. I say read but what I really mean is “acted”, because he read  the book with such enthusiasm, he did voices for each character and put a little “fun” into every song he read. He also had a hand traced map of Middle Earth posted on our classroom bulletin board. How could I not fall head-over-heels into this world when it was introduced to me in such an impactful way?

It was the year 2000 when the build-up for the release of Peter Jackson’s LOTR movies were happening, and in 2001, I was once again given this magical world on a silver platter. LOTR became my life. Any magazine with a mention of it was purchased. The books were purchased from Costco in a complete set (and enjoyed slowly and enthusiastically). I had the “book of the film”. I had the soundtrack (which is currently playing in my car stereo system). I had the Frodo action figure (still in box in my basement storage). My parents took me to the Two Towers exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum. LOTRs was my life. It was the first fandom I fell hard into, and that love and adoration still ripples through me now.

I saw a bit of myself in all the characters. I recognized my own internal conflict and struggles mirrored in the struggles of Frodo, of Biblo, of Gandalf and Aragorn, and see it even more clearly now. Tolkien wrote characters that were so human and yet so divine. He wrote of innocence, of unity and trust, of strength of heart, of courage. Those resonate with me even more so as an adult with the own “weight” of my own “ring of darkness” that I carry. How real, how true, how honest and how beautiful is Tolkien’s story?

When I had the opportunity to visit Oxford (my most favourite place in England that I’ve visited) and walked the university, I loved thinking of Tolkien – and Lewis, as he’s another favourite of mine – walking the same path or writing in the offices by the windows. It was such an honour to see where he spent so much of his time and where he imagined much of the world I so love.

Just prior to the release of The Hobbit on film, I decided to get a Tree of Gondor tattoo which is not seen by many (and I often forget I have it) but is spread across my ribs on my right side. A symbol of death and rebirth and representative of the crownless king – much like I am the crownless queen of my own destiny – along with the role the universe played in my youth, it meant a lot to me and I wanted to carry it with me, always.

When the Hobbit was being released into theatres, I had just started dating J and he saw my excitement about being back in Tolkien’s world again after such a long wait. He got me a Hobbit shirt, and a beautiful map replica, and a “nerd box” he got me even had Thorin Oakenshield’s key (/pen) inside of it. Unfortunately, the movies really let me down in comparison to LOTR and the perfection which it is, so much so that I’m actually working through rewatching them because I had forgotten them all. It just didn’t bring back the same feeling that I had when I was young (but I did cry my eyes out at the end of the third Hobbit movie because I realized this world in film is likely closed for good, and that hurts).

Unlike The Hobbit films, rereading LOTR has brought back that child-like adoration of the world. It is bringing back to me the same excitement, enthusiasm, and sense of comfort that I once had. I am truly obsessed all over again! I want more, more, more. I don’t want to put the books down (sometimes I fall asleep holding them). I want to collect different editions of the book. I want to expand my knowledge of the universe. I want to get art and film books that didn’t exist when I was young, or I had no knowledge of. I want to collect, consume, adore each part of this world.

It’s truly a fitting time of year to indulge in these texts, because it brings about a Hobbit-like desire to sit by the hearth with a warm drink (or a big glass of ale) and a lot of heavy, hearty food and just give oneself up to the story and journey along in the world. My obsession may be paused once Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is released because that fandom is the one that has one of the strongest pulls on my heart, but for now, it feels good to be in so deep into Tolkien’s universe. I feel like I’m home.

What universe do you always seem to fall back into?

xo
C

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