“We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can't think what anybody sees in them.” —Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
I’m something like a hobbit. More specifically, I’m something like Bilbo Baggins before he goes on his adventure. No, I’m not three foot six or lower, I don’t have hairy feet, and I don’t eat six meals a day. But I think I’m similar to Bilbo in that I like my quiet convenient life. I like my bedroom and my books and my cups of tea. I like my warm showers and clean clothes. And I most certainly don’t like my normal life being upset. I don’t like going without meals or warm beds. I don’t like inconvenience. I get grumpy when I have to try something new against my will. I get anxious if my daily routines are disrupted. I get stressed when life doesn't go according to plan. I freak out and think about how I should’ve done this or that differently. Then everything would be all right and comfortable and normal.
So far, this thinking hasn’t helped me.
And inconveniences just keep happening. Sometimes I get a respite from them, but they always come back. They’re usually not huge, disastrous things, but they’re just enough to tip my day off its kilter and suddenly I’m upside down in the water trying to breathe. And I wonder, “What am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to function?”
Eventually something happens. I do something or fix something or I go get help or someone helps me or I cry and eat chocolate or all of the above. Then life settles back down and I can look back at the problem instead of being swept up in the middle of it. Something equally strange happens when I do that though: The problem changes. It is no longer so overwhelming. It becomes small, inconsequential. And it can even become funny. I’ll tell friends about it and make it a funny story and we’ll laugh and I’ll be like, “Yep, that’s my life.” It’s no big deal suddenly.
But that doesn’t take away the stress I had in the moment. Laughing at it later doesn’t negate the anxiety I faced while it was happening.
And I wonder. What if in the moment of the inconvenience, I was able to remove the stress and replace it with the laughter? What if I could cut out the anxiety and stitch the humor into its place? What could that change? For one, it would make my funny stories afterward more honest because yes, I really would have laughed at the circumstances, not been over my ears in stress. I think it might make me happier, more relaxed, more carefree. I might be able to ride the ups and downs a little more smoothly. I might have more room to breathe and more room to open my eyes and notice the world around me.
That doesn’t sound like a bad trade off.
But how do I do that? How do I fit the laughter into the stress-shaped hole? How do I make the lines and edges and curves and sharp angles fit?
Well, think about The Hobbit. What happened to Bilbo? He journeyed with the dwarves through all the difficulties and inconveniences, and over time an adventurous spirit awoke in him. He started facing his problems and not running away from them. He started getting himself and his companions out of tight places. And he started enjoying it. He started to like being clever and wily. He ended up liking succeeding through difficulty and overcoming obstacles. And when he went home, he was a different hobbit. He saw life and its ups and downs differently. He actually couldn’t get the thirst for adventure entirely out of his bones.
But what about the inconveniences? What about the damp and the dark and the cold? What about the travel sores and the low food rations and the achy feet? That all still happened, but Bilbo ended up being okay with it because in his eyes all those inconveniences morphed into something else: an adventure.
I’m never going to go gallivanting off with thirteen dwarves and a wizard to steal loot from a fire-bellied beast, but the inconveniences in my everyday life still exist and still cause me stress. But maybe if I looked at them differently they would change. Maybe the laughter and the humor would come sooner rather than later. Maybe if I chose to see the inconveniences as adventures, the laughter would fit right into the stress-shaped holes. The problem at hand would shrink and no longer threaten to drown me in anxiety.
An inconvenience for an adventure.
That doesn’t sound like such a bad trade off.
Greetings to all of Hannah's lovely blog followers! I'm Danielle, a seventeen-year-old girl with an ink stained heart. I should probably mention that although I do like Tolkien's work and although this post was Hobbit themed, I am not by any means a Lord of the Rings or Hobbit fanatic who knows every fact about Middle Earth. I do appreciate a good story though, and reading and writing are, in my opinion, two of the most wonderful things I have yet encountered. I regularly find it easier to read or write than talk, and I will never stop being grateful for the written word. Photography is also one of the things that make my life better, and I view the world through a camera lens. Oftentimes that world is overwhelming and I'm learning how to live in and with it. I blog over at Digression with the Dark.