The stories we read

Gandalf; or, Just Keep Going

I’m still enjoying the lecture series on The Hobbit, albeit slowly.  There are many things I love about this story, the characters not the least of which. Among them,  my all time favorite has to be Gandalf. The lectures have taken unclear ideas in my mind and transformed them into words and connections that explain just what I love about this character.

First of all, Gandalf is a story teller. He gathers the characters around himself and propels them and sometimes events along. “Tales and adventures sprouted up all over the place wherever he went, in the most extraordinary fashion. (p.3)” This isn’t just his function in The Hobbit; he plays a similar role in the LOTR trilogy, and on a larger scale. Even when Gandalf is absent from the story line of The Hobbit, he’s busy with events that are critical to a later time. Even behind the scenes, he is weaving tales. Sometimes his tool is powerful magic; other times, a simple staff.

I don’t know when Gandalf realized he was a storyteller, but for me, this is a fairly recent discovery. It’s something that infuses my perspective. I have the power of story in my grasp. How am I going to use it? Will I realize that what I do now is part of a story that may not unfold for years or decades? Am I bold enough to see that kind of significance for what it is and press on in light of it? (Hint: in still figuring these out, and probably will be my whole life.)

Secondly, Gandalf keeps hope alive for those around him and for the sake of the current objective. Imagine if he had decided that keeping a mysterious enemy at bay and leading a troop of dwarves plus burglar to reclaim a lost city were just too much, or beneath him, or that he should just choose one and let the other work itself out. Or imagine if Gandalf had told Bilbo that the adventure ahead was really too difficult and he should really stay home after all. Instead he urged Bilbo and the dwarves ahead, not because he was sure their journey would be a breeze, but because he believed in the outcome.

He kept going.

Writing consistently is challenging for me. I still struggle to find a good time of day and the energy to do it.  But every time I put pen to paper, I’m reminded again that part of who I am is a storyteller. It’s rewarding and I want to keep going.  I have to keep going.

And so, to take a cue from the venerable wizard Gandalf, I’ll keep writing.

Because whoever says you can’t find inspiration for real life from fictional characters might not recognize a good story if it whacked him on the head with a staff!   😉


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