Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Return of the King

Warning:  In case you couldn't tell by the title of this post, I'm going to geek out a little.  If you're geeky enough to read blogs but not geeky enough to admit you enjoyed the Lord of the Rings movies, you should probably stop reading.  ;)

I have returned from Europe and I now find myself back in Provo, Utah.  It is a very strange feeling.   While I was in France, I listened a bit to the soundtrack in the Lord of the Rings.  I noticed something meaningful in the songs chosen for the end credits.  They all speak of a journey at different stages.

From Enya's "May it Be" (The Fellowship of the Ring soundtrack):

May it be an evening star
Shines down upon you
May it be when darkness falls
Your heart will be true
You walk a lonely road
Oh! How far you are from home...

A promise lives within you now....

Out of context, it sounds like something off of an EFY cd, a metaphor for a Parent's wishes for a child beginning life's journey through this mortal coil.  But in my context, it was talking about my trip through Europe.  Though I did not admit it, I sometimes felt like Frodo- a very small hobbit off on a very big adventure, (only with shoes and with green eyes instead of Elijah Wood's oh-so-baby blues).

You can't tell from the pictures, but I'm actually taller too...
Then winter came, and my contract seemed interminable.  Thanksgiving and Christmas made me realize how long it had been since I'd seen my family and friends, and suddenly Gollum's song became my anthem.

From "Gollum's Song", the Two Towers soundtrack:

Where once was light, now darkness falls
Where once was love, love is no more

Don't say goodbye, don't say I didn't try

These tears we cry are falling rain
For all the lies you told us, the hurt, the blame
And we will weep to be so alone
We are lost, we can never go home

Now, I certainly didn't feel as overdramatic as the schizophrenic Smeagol, but that line "We are lost, we can never go home..." rang true.  But winter passed and the sun came out, and soon my return home was pressing close.  

When the journey was almost over, suddenly "Into the West", from the Return of the King, fit perfectly:

Lay down
Your sweet and weary head
Night is falling
You have come to journey's end
Sleep now
And dream of the ones who came before
They are calling
From across a distant shore
Why do you weep?
What are these tears upon your face?
Soon you will see
All of your fears will pass away

Safe in my arms
You're only sleeping

What can you see
On the horizon?
Why do the white gulls call?
Across the sea
A pale moon rises
The ships have come to carry you home
And all will turn
To silver-glass
A light on the water
Grey ships pass
Into the West

This was my favorite of the three soundtracks.  The song is a melancholy mix of hope and wistful regret, a sort of nascent nostalgia as Frodo realizes his journey is over and, while weary, is sad to see it end.  I felt the same sort of thing at the end of my time as a missionary, and I felt it again as I sat in the airport waiting to return to the states.  

So the Lord of the Rings is about journeys, specifically, Frodo's journey to Mount Doom, but also Aragorn's journey to his destiny as King.  These journeys can be perilous in and of themselves, but as Bilbo warned his nephew "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door.  You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."

Now I find myself, like Frodo, back home in the West, carried by grey ships that fly so high that the water in the clouds appeared as silver-glass.  And like Frodo, I find myself unable to recognize my old haunts.  Did Provo change so much in a year?  So many of my friends are gone, graduated, married, or moved on that where once I could not walk five minutes without seeing a friendly face, now I see only strangers.  Or is it myself that has changed?  I feel that sense of isolation that is so common a trope for the hero of a travel-tale upon returning home.  

Was Thomas Wolfe right when he said "You Can't Go Home Again?"

My brother and I walking our hobbit sized nephew home...

1 comment:

  1. Haha, I enjoyed this post. I want to hear more about your Provo adventures!! Keep posting! :)