Why The Hobbit (and Its Lessons) Make My Life Wonderful



Photo from here.
It all starts with a wee little man embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. Bilbo Baggins, certified Hobbit (a race of little people from the wonderful fantasy land called Middle Earth) and Peaceful Person gets the surprise of his life when a wizard storms into his door and declares him to be the fourteenth member of Thorin and Company, a band of dwarves with the mission of taking back Erebor, the once-majestic dwarven kingdom that has fallen into the hands, er, claws, of a dragon. Imagine Bilbo's bewilderment and protests as he declares himself unfit—and disinterseted—in such a venture. But curiosity and something else—perhaps a desire to see the world, to step out of the ordinary confines of a day-to-day life?—has him running off to join the dwarves.

In some sense, Bilbo's journey is an echo of mine, and there is much to be gleaned from The Hobbit. As I read the book or watch the movies, I no longer take it at a mere face value but find many valuable lessons and insights. It is no longer merely a work of fiction (of which I am undeniably an avid fan), as the scenes, characters, and situations become something I can relate to.

We are comfortable with our daily lives and the routine tasks we do, but untapped in the deep recesses of our hearts is a yearning for the unknown, a yearning for adventure. We, like Bilbo, realize that the call for adventure is too powerful to ignore and its lessons too essential to miss, in spite of the fact that adventure will sometimes require us to face what we fear. And when that yearning is awakened and the call answered, we, like Bilbo, leap off to join this Great Adventure, whether it be visiting the Angkor Wat ruins or zip-lining across the open sea in Palawan or simply fighting our fear of heights and enjoying the sunset from the rooftop of a 43-floor building. If Bilbo had stayed in his little house in Bag End, he would not have learned that the dwarves are a stalwart, hardy, loyal people. He would not have learned to value friendships and family and home as he did at the end of his long journey. He would have lived the rest of his life with the question "what if?"

So as it is with Bilbo, so can it be with us—wishful travelers, adventure seekers, wanderers. Like Bilbo, my adventures turned out to be quite different from what I imagined, but they have changed me and I have learned so much from them. Each adventure we embark on, we give a bit to it and we take a bit from it. Each adventure has a valuable lesson that molds us and shapes us. Each adventure leaves us wiser, richer. And each adventure always leaves us yearning for more.

As we take a step to a new experience, take that first leap into a new adventure, perhaps we feel as Bilbo Baggins did when he stepped out of the gate of his beloved Bag End in the sequel to The Hobbit—a little nostalgic, a little sad, but also a little excited, as we echo his words: “I think I'm ready for another adventure!”

Angkor Wat during our cultural tour of Cambodia, May 2010

Zip-lining across the West Philippine Sea in Sabang, Palawan, November 2012

Watching the sunset, Ortigas Center, October 2015

Philippine Airlines flies to Auckland, New Zealand starting December 2015.
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