I turned fifty a couple of months ago. I know, I know, it’s hard to believe, I don’t look a day over 40. At first, I was dreading the event, thinking I was effectively signing my own death warrant. It was all downhill from there and I’d nothing to look forward to bar my body gradually falling apart and becoming more forgetful. I was tempted to raise the white flag on my running, writing and everything else I aspired to be good at. I’d left it too late and run out of time.
Last night I coincidentally reached Page 50 in my re-read of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. I’ve set myself the target of finishing it by the end of the year, at a projected pace of seven pages a day. I last read the books as a teenager many moons ago and am already amazed at how much I overlooked, or more likely, themes and messages that my younger brain was simply unwilling, or unable, to digest.
Bilbo Baggins is fifty years old when he first sets off on his adventures in ‘The Hobbit.’ Now, I know it’s difficult to compare hobbit and human ages as the former far outlive the likes of you and I. Bilbo is celebrating his 111th birthday at the beginning of ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ and Frodo has come of age at a sprightly thirty-three. But it still struck a chord with me. Life really only began for Bilbo Baggins when he turned fifty.
What I had also forgotten was that following Bilbo’s mysterious disappearance at his 111th birthday party, it was another seventeen years before Gandalf returned to the Shire to explain to Frodo the significance of the ring he had inherited from his Uncle Bilbo. The one true ring, the ring to rule them all. So, aged fifty, Frodo set up with Sam, Merry and Pippin on his own incredible adventure.
I’m no hobbit and I’ve no immediate plans to down tools and set off on a quest to battle dragons and unearth treasure troves. But it did encourage me that there is still plenty of life left in this middle-aged dog yet. I have mountains to scale and paths to walk, we all do. When at your lowest ebb, we must all remember this. Age is no barrier and I’m determined to keep pressing on, to find out who and I am and where I’m meant to go.
Next time, I’ll continue to unravel fresh insight and meaning from this most wondrous of tales. It may not be everybody’s cup of tea but I encourage you to stick with me as I follow the journey beyond the Shire into the lands of dwarves, elves and men. There is much ground to cover and much more to learn. Thank you for reading and feel free to comment below with your thoughts and opinions.