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Happy Hobbit Day!

Today is September 22, which marks the birthday of the hobbits Bilbo Baggins and Frodo Baggins from J.R.R. Tolkien’s iconic books The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. These books have inspired generations — as well as half a dozen incredible movies — with their magic and universal themes. Tolkien isn’t called the “father of modern fantasy” for nothing.

I, like many others, thank Tolkien for providing such a wondrous place to get lost in every once in a while. Fantasy offers an escape from our realities, an escape especially welcome when that reality feels like it is straight out of a dystopian novel.

As Bilbo Baggins once said, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your front door.” With wildfires ranging on the west coast, a historic hurricane season on the east, and a deadly virus everywhere in between, I find these words to be disturbingly relevant.

Like I said, dystopian.

Doing midterms in the midst of a pandemic that feels like it will never end is no small feat — heck, finding the energy and motivation to do anything these days is no small feat. But it will end, and one of the most valuable lessons we can learn from The Lord of the Rings is to hold on to hope in the meantime.

When Gandalf and Thorin and Company arrived on Bilbo Baggins’ doorstep with a proposition for adventure, Bilbo left his cozy hobbit-hole in the Shire with no idea what might come next. When the entirety of Middle Earth was on the brink of desolation at the hands of the Dark Lord Sauron, Frodo Baggins still clung to the last chance to defeat him, destroying the One Ring. And he succeeded!

If these humble hobbits can save the world, we can make it through 2020, even if only one day at a time.

This day, Hobbit Day, is usually celebrated with a large party featuring fireworks and lots of food, friends, and dancing, but as there’s a pandemic going on, I don’t recommend that. Instead, consider celebrating this Hobbit Day with a good book or movie — it doesn’t even have to be The Lord of the Rings

Ultimately, it’s not so much about what we’re doing so long as we have hope and remember that there will come a time when we each get to embark on our own adventures. 

Until then, here’s a reminder:

“But in the end it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass.” – Samwise Gamgee

Nhu Bui

Duke '24

Nhu is a current freshman at Duke University studying Environmental Science and Policy. She loves books and movies (pretty much stories in any medium), politics, and Paddington Bear. She almost exclusively listens to show tunes.
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