“It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end… because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing… this shadow. Even darkness must pass.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, from “The Two Towers”, 2nd Book in “The Lord of the Rings”
The darkness hovers at the edges of my mind. I can spend days writing music, hiking through the woods, or lost in the world of a book, but still, it is there.
When I ignore it too long, it finds its own ways to make me pay attention – a headline that worms its way into my subconscious, a thought that wakes me and prevents the return of sleep.
The darkness is made of many shrouds: the sudden silence of my (and others’) performance career, the illness and death of millions of people, the ugly hatred that spills onto social media posts and into our streets, the posturing of politicians, the loss of so many dreams...
It doesn’t take more than a scratch at the history books to see global parallels between this time period and the beginning of World War I. The storms are converging...
Earlier in December, I re-visited several books: J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
Tolkien is an author who knew darkness. He fought in World War I, and beneath the gathering clouds of World War II, he wrote “The Hobbit.”
For anyone who hasn’t read it, this book is not only a wonderful adventure but also an epic battle between good and evil.
I don’t believe it is a coincidence that this dark moment in human history coincides with both the inability of people to gather and the silencing of the arts. So much that is bright and beautiful in life has been erased from our daily existence, leaving us each alone to find a purpose in that void.
And yet... all we need to do is look to the art of the past to find our path for the future. Like so many of his contemporaries, Tolkien’s work is full of an irrepressible hope in goodness.
Through all the times of sorrow and despair, ordinary humans like Tolkien found a way to create music and art, to share joy and love. This is so incredible to me that it is nearly incomprehensible.
This indomitable spirit is the essence of what makes us human. These books were a reminder to me that I must go inward to find my own light, and that I must never give up my belief that others will do the same. As long as the earth continues to revolve around the sun, all shadows will eventually pass into the light.