Stories That Really Matter

By Ian Wilson (Rated G)

I’ve basically dedicated my life to the pursuit of stories and story-telling. Without stories, everything falls apart. A lot of people try to dismiss fantasy as being escapist or childish. Well Tolkien himself said, “Fantasy is escapist and that is its glory.” You can never diminish the power of storytelling, no matter the genre. Fantasy, especially, has had an enduring value to the human spirit. It’s part of the common mythological heritage of man. It’s how we’ve made sense of the world for thousands of years. 

A good friend of mine, Joshua, is a Presbyterian. I once joked that Presbyterians were the Dwarves of the Christian world because they like “long hymns, dark beer, big meals, and large beards.” Recently, my friend lost his father to a mysterious illness. While processing his grief, he kept returning to my joke about Presbyterians being dwarves. Strangely, that helped him a lot. He thought about how his father was dwarf-like in many ways, and he kept returning to Durin’s song:

“But still the sunken stars appear
In dark and windless Mirrormere
There lies his crown in water deep,
Till Durin wakes again from sleep”

Gimli sings this song as the company is passing through the Mines of Moria. To Joshua, it was a reminder that his dad is now in a much better place, and that the light still shines in the darkness. 

In America and apparently in Britain as well, we are in a time of great darkness and chaos. The riots, the pillaging, the destruction; it all seems like nothing could ever go back to the way it was. In the movie The Two Towers (it’s been so long since I read the book, I don’t remember if it’s in there or not) Sam Gamgee gives a speech where he talks about the “stories that really mattered”. He reminds Frodo that even the darkness will eventually pass and a new day will come. That’s the enduring value of Tolkien’s work, and why we keep going back to it. Even this present darkness will pass, and a new day will come, and its light will shine all the brighter.

The most important stories are the stories we tell ourselves. What’s your story? I’m probably going to get in trouble for this, but I really do think that part of the problem with our society is that we’ve told ourselves the wrong stories for too long. You tell someone they’re the victim long enough, they’ll believe it. They’ll allow themselves to be victimized over and over again because that’s what they’ve been told and what they’ve always told themselves. We need to stop telling that story. Are there barriers to success? Yes. But with the proper determination, no barrier is truly insurmountable. You push through, no matter what gets in your way. You owe it to yourself to ignore the haters and keep going. Never let anyone make you a victim. You are a warrior, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. 

Originally posted on LEGENDS AND SONGS – Legend of the Sword Bearer.

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