Oxford- Visiting Graves

Oof. Readjusting to “normal” life is difficult. Suddenly people want me to be places at certain times and Scout expects to be fed (every day, too!) and there’s something called a “job” that people are going on and on about.

Which is a long way of saying, it’s taken me a while to write this post.

If you’re at all familiar with my blog, especially the early days, you may be aware that I am a huge Tolkien fan. This started around age eight for me when The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring came out. We rented it from the local video store, and I was allowed to watch most of it except the parts with the cave troll.

I was hooked.

It was probably my first real exposure to fantasy, beyond fairy tales and folklore, which I already adored. And at age eight, I promptly set out to read the books.

I only made it through the Fellowship before the Two Towers movie came out. I then read the entire trilogy. And then read it again the next year. And the next year. And the next. And by age thirteen or fourteen, I was beyond obsessed.

I had a 365-day Lord of the Rings calendar that I later turned into a 24X36 inch collage. I started learning elvish. I became a Tolkien scholar. And, finally coming around to the point, I decided someday I would study at Oxford where Tolkien had once taught.

Fast forward twelve years. Laura is twenty-five years old, standing at the foot of Tolkien’s grave, weeping.

I don’t know if everyone can relate to this experience. I’ve always felt things intensely, been prone to throwing myself straight into the heart of things or else dropping it entirely. When I love something, I LOVE it. When I’m not interested, it ceases to exist.

The Lord of the Rings, and the example that Professor Tolkien gave to me, as a writer and a lover of language, was the driving force behind nearly all of my decision-making from the age of eight to the age of twenty-five. It has been the single most influential part of my identity.

And to be present, at the grave of someone who never met me, never had an inkling that I would ever exist, and yet somehow had determined the direction of my life for seventeen years…

I mean that for me is the why, right? That’s the why write. To impact and support and inspire and influence people outside of yourself. To encourage and share a world with someone you don’t even know exists. Even after you die.

For a long time, I thought it was about immortality. How to survive beyond the confines of the human lifespan. But it isn’t even that anymore. Now it’s simply the hope that someone’s life will be better because I wrote something.

So, I stood there that sunny day in May, at the foot of Tolkien’s grave. I set down the letter I had written to him, a flower for his wife Edith, and the Evenstar that had been my symbolic heart since high school. I set them all down, and as I stood, crying, thinking of the people who have come through, touched, and left my life, I felt a sort of presence. And a thought came into my head.

“This is all well and good,” the thought said, “but now you must write your own adventure.”

And so I do.

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