“In a hole in the ground there lived a man who passed a quiet, uneventful life in a community that greatly prized convention and respectability.” Sound familiar? “One day, however, he left his hole and journeyed off into the Blue. His adventure, though frightening and at times painful, changed him forever. His eyes were opened, and he matured in mind and character. When he returned to his hole, his neighbors regarded him as ‘cracked’ because they couldn’t accept that there is more to life than order and predictable routine. Although he lost his reputation, he never regretted going on the adventure that enabled him to discover his true self and to experience an exciting new world.” – Irwin, Bassham, and Bronson’s The Hobbit and Philosophy.
Tolken took this straight from Plato’s “The Allegory of the Cave,” gave it new life, and told a story that is still relevant today. For those of you who may not know, Plato’s allegory is a tale of a man chained since birth in an underground prison or cave. He ventures forward, discovering the world is much larger and beautiful than he could have possibly imagined. The story teaches readers to “Be adventurous. Get out of your comfort zone. Admit your limitations and be open to new ideas and higher truths. Only by confronting challenges and taking risks can we grow and discover what we are capable of becoming” (Irwin, Bassham, and Bronson), “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
This is why I left Albany to learn and adventure upon graduating high school. It is why I continue to adventure even though I have moved back home through going to a university in Virgina for my Ph.D. and meeting people from around the world through the program, most of them who are becoming treasured friends, and who have taught me much more than I would have ever learned sitting in Albany, GA, for my entire life. Now do not take this the wrong way. If you have, then that is fine. That was your adventure, but please consider the verses God has given us to do more than just exist. Read. Hike. Swim. Travel. Listen to others. Help your community. Adventure is more than just living somewhere else. It is the act of learning and opening ourselves to God’s glory, just as Bilbo did through his travels and when he was back home in the Shire.
Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” We are not put on earth to only exist. We are here to see “The heavens declare the glory of God;[and] the Skies proclaim the work of his Hands”(Psalm 19:1).
This is what all those about to head off to college need to remember, as well as the parents. I was lucky. I had a mother and father who allowed me to leave and explore on my own, knowing they had taught me that God’s “word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path “(Psalm 119: 105). I have always been an avid reader, questioning what I read and not just taking it as fact and truth because it was printed. I urge new college students to do this as they go out into the world.