Ah, Lord of the Rings. One of the trilogies that (for the most part) works efficiently, effectively and excellently. It also works as a literary and cinematic metaphor to draw comparisons up against my current college experience. I’m facing down the first tower this semester and it’s been a challenge. I’m juggling 18 credit hours, a part time job and a girlfriend. I’m now in my second month as a secondary education major with a English focus and all I can say is – holy sweet Lord of the Reading! I know far too many myth stories (hint – a good portion of them are dirty, strange and even hilariously curious) from every corner of the world and have come to understand “Gilgamesh” as a cultural touchstone. In my myth and literature class, we watched a episode from Star Trek: The Next Generation entitled, “Darmok”. If you haven’t seen it, do so. It’s a fantastic little episode that takes the idea of using myths and stories translated into a functioning language. Seriously. If you love linguistics or English Literature, do it.
I’m also facing off against Math. It’s a terrible foe. I know the professor from my years in high school (15 years ago, natch) and so I have every confidence that I won’t end up being committed for losing my ever loving mind. But as we know from “Dumb an Dumber”, there’s always a chance. There was an interesting moment in this class that I wanted to share. There’s four of us at the table and two of us are natural at math. I can assure you, I am not one of them. Thankfully, the woman across from me struggles just as I do. We were doing an exercise to learn the Pythagorean Theorem and in the middle of it I had a Einstein level “Eureka Moment”. I realized what it feels like to be a student who doesn’t get it while a good portion of the rest of the class does. I can’t lie. It hurt. I felt those old wounds from previously unpleasant and unhelpful math classes start to ache with startling acuity. I realized that I can’t neglect that moment – I need to amplify it, examine it and dig into it. There will be students in my English classes that will be sitting in those feelings in metaphor and reality and I have to take a deep inwards breath…and think back to this stupid math class that I just want to put on a rocket to Mars.
This feeling isn’t just limited to my math class. I’m experiencing this in all of them – and that’s not a bad thing. As a 33 year old student, I’ll wear it as a mark of pride that I’m learning all this even with the cobwebs of school 15 years past. I may be an old dog, but I can learn new tricks just as easy as the bright eyed high school pups filling the halls around me. It’s an old adage – “Never give up!” The Fellowship faces this challenge in The Two Towers as they are separated and the vast darkness of the enemy begins to assert it’s power and influence across the map. When I started writing this blog, I spoke about Bilbo Baggins as he set out on his adventure in a run, his heart afire and mind racing. That was back in 2014. Two years have past and I’m still running on my haphazard journey through Middle Earth / College escaping the trials and tribulations that litter the inescapable gauntlet that rise and fall behind, around and ahead of me. It’s the same feeling I experienced when I completed that first class with Dr. Haley two years ago – that I can do this and that it’s not impossible. It’ll be rough. It’ll be tough. But I’m up to the task.
This is an encouragement to you out there reading these words. I can hope this reaches you and has something for you to take away. Be it a tough go, a rough go or even if things seem beyond hopeless, never ending or whatever adjective you’d desire to toss in there like a grenade – I can tell you it gets better. You might have to change everything in your life. You might have to give up $40,000 a year in comfortable salary and take on student loan debt to reinvent yourself. But it’s worth it. Don’t be the Bilbo Baggins who refuses to leave his house and hates when the world of mystery, joy, adventure and epics invades. Be the hobbit who takes off running onto A Great Adventure.
What are you waiting for?