“It’s like in the great stories… The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think… I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something…. That there’s some good in this world… and it’s worth fighting for.”
Eminent Sage of Wisdom, Literary Hero and Gardener, Samwise Gamgee (from The Two Towers)
Okay so admittedly? I would have preferred a non-Sean Astin portrait of Samwise “Sam” Gamgee but unfortunately, the only JPEGs of Sam on the internet are either pictures or memes like this one from The Lord of the Rings movies. But this one kinda’ resonates with the theme of this little blog entry.
I’d wager that most everyone has either read the books or seen Peter Jackson’s masterful movie trilogy at some point in the last decade plus. If you haven’t? Seriously, people. PRIORITIES. I’m not saying they’re Star Wars good but next to Star Wars it’s arguably the greatest trilogy in movie history (NOTE: I do not include Indiana Jones because of the travesty that was “Crystal Skulls”–even though it was the fourth movie and is not, technically a part of the “trilogy”–Back to the Future because of “Part Two” and The Godfather because of “Part Three” and Sofia Coppola). Read ’em, or see ’em at some point before you die and parents: Get your children to read them AND The Hobbit before they’re too old to appreciate them. You can avoid The Silmarillion if you’d like. There are days I wish I had.
Everyone has a favorite character or characters in the Lord of the Rings books or movies. My wife, Nicole? She loves Strider/Aragorn (not Viggo Mortensen, mind you, but the character he plays). My friend Caren (booyakasha, Caren: RESPECT)? She loves Gollum. There may even be one or two people out there reading this that like Frodo though I’ve got to tell you, I was never a big Frodo Baggins fan. Sure, he’s the ring bearer for 90% of the books/movies and that has to count for something but really? Save for the whole holding-the-evil-at-bay thing long enough for him to dispose of the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom what does he really do? For sh*t’s sake, he technically doesn’t even keep the evil at bay long enough to dispose of the ring. Were it not for Gollum’s interference, he likely would have stayed invisible, walked past Sam, out of the cave, back down the slopes of Mount Doom, out of Mordor and into a dark hole somewhere to live out his years. Sauron would have won, The Shire would have started looking like a post-Industrial ruin ala Detroit and… well. I’m guessing you get my point.
But Sam, guys? For me, Sam has been and always will be the true hero of The Lord of the Rings, AND my favorite character. Don’t believe me? Re-reference the above meme and tell me I’m wrong. Please. One particular part of it sticks out in my mind, though:
“Even carries him [Frodo] up Mount Doom.”
Why? Because everyone, at some point in their life needs a Samwise Gamgee. When the going gets to be it’s toughest, everyone needs someone that is willing to pick them up in their weakness, throw them over their shoulder and carry them. We can’t do it on our own. No one is THAT strong.
I’ve encountered many people over the course of my almost 38 year existence on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence that claim to be that strong but I have never met anyone… EVER… that didn’t need to be carried every so often. Whether carried by someone else or carried by God like in the poem “Footprints” (also a personal “fave,” and I’m not an overly religious person), I consider myself a very strong soul. But there are times in MY life where I’ve needed to rely on my own, personal Samwise Gamgee to cook me a “brace of conies,” or talk me down from doing something stupid like handing the One Ring over to the Nazgul. And oft times I, too, have put a proverbial sword point to that noble person’s neck because I didn’t WANT to keep going. I wanted to give up.
Those people? Top to bottom, from my wife to my mother and my sister to my co-workers to my friends of a couple of months to my friends of a couple of decades… to all of them, I owe an eternal debt of gratitude. As Ed Wilkinson says in ENDWORLD – A Novel, “Wus.” I have no idea what it means. I Googled it and came up with “a derivative of the terms ‘wuss’ and ‘p*ssy'” but my OWN friend, Ed, used to say that too me all the time. I think it’s an Eastern term of endearment. If he’s reading this, maybe he can chime in. And Ed? if you ARE reading this and you really WERE calling me a cross between a wuss and a p*ssy, f-you, buddy. And “wus” right back at you.
But even that is not enough, sometimes. Sometimes, something more is required and that something? My own, personal Samwise Gamgee? That which this blog entry would be dedicated to if it had a dedication page? I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count.
Give up? You make me sad. WRITING, ladies and gents. WRITING. When things start to go cuckoo, I always turn to writing. There have been times when I’ve told myself that I wouldn’t: That I’d put it on hold until such time as I… for lack of a better phrase “sort my sh*t out.” But that’s about as realistic as the idea of Gandalf and the Balrog falling through Middle Earth and popping out on the other side to do battle, Gandalf with his sword and staff and the Balrog with his fire… sword, whip, WHATEVER (I’m sure it could morph into a spoon if Bal-lee Baby wanted it to; the perks of being an “ancient evil”).
Last week, I wrote that I was at a crossroads with Children of Endworld. A dark place that I really don’t want to go. But I’ve determined something in the last few days, ladies and gents. I’ve determined that I NEED to keep going for a couple of reasons. First and foremost because people are counting on me to finish it in a reasonable amount of time and not 19 years from now when I’m almost as old as Gandalf (okay, maybe not THAT old; he’s, like, thousands of years old, and I’m a pup by comparison). Those people? The ones that enjoyed ENDWORLD – A Novel and want to read more? Well, I guess I just don’t want to let you down. So either tonight or tomorrow, I’m going to resume what I started and see what happens. Amy Veitz (my editor) be forewarned: Parts One and Two are going to be popping up in your email within a few moments of when I complete this. By virtue of being the person who volunteered to reign in my oft times “tough language” a couple of years ago you get first dibs on William’s continuance. I look forward to hearing back from you. Booyakasha: RESPECT. Winky emoticon. Smiley face.
The second reason? Because writing has always been, for me, my most important Samwise Gamgee. That in no way, shape or form discounts any others from my beloved wife, Nicole, to my friend and brother Matt who once upon a time took me out to Denny’s every night to help me put my life into perspective, and lately has been doing the same. Not Denny’s. We’re too old for a Grand Slam breakfast, nowadays (clogged arteries and all that). Booyakasha to YOU sir. Once again: RESPECT.
But writing? Writing has been the lone constant for me for as long as I can remember. It has carried most of my equipment (or, if you’d prefer, “baggage”). It has never defeated a gigantic spider but it HAS helped me get passed my nightmares. It ALWAYS puts up with my whining (and by God, I do a LOT of whining, you just don’t “hear” it on here). It never saved me single-handedly from an Orc tower but it DID rescue me from a lot. From the loss of my adopted father many moons ago to the saga that was me, and the Feminine Bane of My Early Existence back when we all lived in “Oz” and no one lived anyplace else. It has oft times carried me up the slopes of Mount Doom.
Do I give it enough credit? Probably. Does it deserve more? Again, probably. I owe it to my own, personal Samwise Gamgee to… as Sean Astin historically ad-libbed during the shooting of “Return of the King,” “be rid of it once and for all!
“Come on, Mr. Frodo! I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you!”
Admit it, guys: You teared up. I still do, every time I see it.
And I always will.