Saturday, February 11, 2012

Critter of the Week: A Hobbit

Bilbo Contemplates - 3.5" x 2", Digital
It is a dangerous thing, 
going out your front door.
- J.R.R. Tolkien

An entry for Ellen Million's Sketch Fest, which usually lasts one or two days. Contributors choose one prompt from many posted by others, and whip up an illustration in under an hour. I usually push it. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. But, it's a good exercise in thinking and working quickly.

The prompt I chose was "There and back again" from Marta Fabianek. I immediately pictured the legendary little guy, recollecting his experiences, and choosing just the right words with which to record them. Perhaps a little exaggeration here, a bit of embroidery there...

Tolkien's The Hobbit is a study in getting outside one's comfort zone. Hobbits are known for their comfort zones. They stay in their holes, mind their own business, and certainly don't have adventures. What would compel a respectable hobbit to leave his home and run off with a crazy old wizard and a bunch of dwarves? Why would anyone leave their safe haven and wander out into an unpredictable world?

We are torn between the desire for security and the need for personal development. Both are necessary for survival and without a healthy balance between them, the result is either being stuck under a rock or end up spinning out into space. Biologist Bruce Lipton has equated the behavior and needs of cells to that of the complete organism. When cells don't grow, they stagnate and die. When they grow too much, cancer develops. Stagnation is easy. Growth is more challenging, yet essential for all life.

Leaving the safety of the hobbit hole, even just by changing our ideas, can be just as terrifying as facing the trolls and dragons of Middle Earth, especially when we define ourselves through entrenched beliefs and perceived limitations. By opening his door and his mind, Bilbo Baggins returned home with a better understanding of his own character and depth of courage, and also a better understanding of other types of people and places. He became more, not less, of who he was. And isn't finding out who we are the point of our journey?

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