Monday, July 05, 2004

Note: If you haven’t seen the third film of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and haven’t read the book, and you mean to see or read one or tother, you might like giving this next post a pass.

The difficulty of letting go
We saw ‘The Return of the King’, the last chapter of the ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, on Friday evening. I am left with the image of Frodo Baggins standing in the heart of the volcano, over the furnace of lava, unable to let go of the ring, even though he has traveled for many months and endured terrible hardship in order to do just this, even though he knows the very future of his world depends on it. Everyone watching is silently shouting, ‘Let go of the ring! Let go of the ring already! What’s wrong with you?’ But the ring is so strong. It has such a hold on its possessor.

‘It’s only a film,’ Bish reminded Eldest when things got too scary for her, ‘It’s not real.’ But how many times have each and every one of us stood over the abyss and been unable to let go of the ring, just like Frodo? Our rings may not be golden and magical. They don’t even have to be ‘things’. In fact they’re usually not. They can be a person, a situation, an idea, a belief, or even a figment of our imagination. But their hold on us is just as firm, just as unrelenting. And we find it just as hard to release our grip, even when we know for sure that letting go will free us.

Sometimes we stand there on that spot over the abyss for months, sometimes for years; some rings we continue to clutch for eternity, pathetically murmuring over and over and over ‘my precioussss’, till the end of time, never to be free.

Even though Frodo’s ring had evil, magical powers that had a strong hold on him, our task is still far harder than his. He had to let a material object fall into a furnace that would destroy it forever, and at the same time destroy its hold on him. Our rings are imprinted in our minds; their hold is not really dependant on anything outside of us, even though we are certain it is.

Letting go of our rings means that we must not only accept change, it also means we must actually change ourselves, and no one can do that for us.

I have so many rings I don’t know where to start. That’s a good excuse now, isn’t it?