A new road or a secret gate
And though I oft have passed them by
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, part of Frodo’s walking song from Lord of the Rings
A few years after Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee return to the shire, Frodo makes up new words to an old song and sings it softly during a walk as he prepares for a new journey. Aside from the beautiful lyricism of the poetry and rhythm, it is the words that bring magic to this walking song.
This is a song of adventure and of faith. I use the term “faith” here in a spiritual sense rather than a religious. In this case, it is a return from a grand adventure of a lifetime that fosters Frodo’s faith and it is his faith that compels him to seek another adventure. Faith is a belief in the intangible, in things unseen but sometimes, things sensed or felt. It is a belief in something better, a working form of optimism.
What is adventure?
It’s not what happens to you. Rather, adventure is how you perceive the events of your life. For some, driving cross-country is a routine job to do as quickly and efficiently as possible. For others, a trip to the local grocer holds promise of the unknown. You define adventure. You determine whether you live a life filled with it. You.
A sense of adventure says there could be a new road or a secret gate around the next corner, a corner that you’ve come around most every day of your life. But this time…this time, maybe it’s different. And how does one believe in a hidden path, let alone find and take it?
This is the adventure of a creative soul. This is the life of the artist. We wake up believing. In what?
In everything. The creative believes in possibilities. The artists go to the medium with the faith that an adventure will take place, that on this page, one that looks just like all the rest, a new road might be found, a secret gate might be revealed. It is a faith that leads to the adventure.
The artist lives a life of faith and adventure because she knows anything less is not living. The artist develops and nurtures a creative practice to which she returns again and again, finding things that heretofore did not exist. Faith is knowing that one day she will take the hidden paths which shall be revealed only as the first step is taken and not before. Anything less and magic is removed from the adventure, faith is rendered unnecessary.
It is the same with a creative life.
It is the difference between waking up excited at possibilities and waking up dreading the routine.
This past week, we had a great deal of snow for the Nashville area. Crossing a parking lot I saw two pennies on a bare spot of concrete and picked one up, leaving the other. “Good luck!” I said to my friend as I held it up before pocketing it. “I’m not bending down for a penny and take a chance on messing up my back,” he replied. “You don’t believe that stuff, do you?”
It made me think. No, I don’t believe that the serendipitous discovery of a copper coin will affect my fate. But I’m glad that I keep looking for those things not because they bring me luck, rather they remind me to be present, to remember the good things I am blessed with. They are keys to a secret gate, not the gate itself. One/one-hundreth of a dollar will not get you anything anymore. But an object can become a talisman in the hands of an alchemist. It becomes a symbol of the magic constantly surrounding us so, in a way, it can actually bring us luck.
I left the other penny hoping another traveller finds it on another adventure. As for me, it’s time for another walk. I feel a song a comin’ on.