“To the end of his days Bilbo could never remember how he found himself outside, without a hat, a walking stick or any money, or anything that he usually took when he went out; leaving his second breakfast half-finished and quite unwashed-up, pushing his keys into Gandalf’s hands, and running as fast as his furry feet could carry him down the lane, past the great Mill, across The Water, and then on for a mile or more.” -The Hobbit
Strange how adventures happen. Bilbo didn’t plan to travel to the lonely mountain and back again, past trolls, goblins, spiders, dragons, and armies. The whole thing swept him up before he even knew what he was doing. But the adventure didn’t just “happen” either. He left his home and his comfort and passed off his keys and ran down the road quite on purpose yet without the proper amount of foresight. Certainly, he was the one making these decisions and doing these things, but the design they formed wasn’t entirely his. Looking back, he can’t understand how the whole thing happened.
I’m with you, Bilbo. And not just because I’m missing my money and walking stick and have left a pile of washing in the sink. But because, somehow, I ended up in the middle of an adventure but don’t exactly understand how. No dragons here, of course. But a few wild children, a few tame chickens, and one giant, beautifully chaotic life of domesticity. I think back to my 20 or 24 year old self and I’m certain I wouldn’t have left so many places unvisited, wouldn’t have handed over the keys of freedom, wouldn’t have run after this particular life in this particular way. My wife and I were there when all the decisions were made, but the design wasn’t entirely our own.
Like Bilbo, I haven’t exactly been thrilled at every hardship, every goblin encounter. But I’m beyond grateful that I’m here. That something pushed me out the front door and onto the road of this wonderful adventure.
We’ve really enjoyed this annotated edition of The Hobbit. The annotations are interesting and the variety of illustrations are wonderful.