I’ve never been anything but a storyteller, a writer once I could scratch out words. I will never forget the day I realized there wasn’t just one world inside me, but millions. I was in Sixth Grade. By some method I no longer remember, I was given a copy of “The Hobbit” to read and I was hooked. For the first time, I understood that the ‘real’ world around me wasn’t the only real world. Inside me, there were thousands of parallel universes in which anything imaginable could happen. And when I read the “Fellowship of the Ring” that same year, those worlds just kept expanding.
Being in sixth grade, there was quite a bit in those books I didn’t understand, but I got the basics. Somewhere else there was a world – worlds – where good was actually good, evil was evil and a clear line was drawn between. A world where, even though bad things happened, all could be made right in the end. Heros lived and died as did villains of every shape and magnitude along with everything in between. Hobbits. Elves. Orces. Wizards.
Like every child, I read, or had read to me, a slew of books about ‘humanized’ animals. The Wind in the Willows. Frog and Toad. My parents read all of the Thorton Burgess books to my sister and I and while those were about animals who talked, perhaps I enjoyed them because the animals weren’t so human. They lived like animals, in the forest or the lakes, not in houses with refrigerators and beds and chairs. The worlds of these talking animals were just stories. Entertaining, but stories.
Reading “The Hobbit” and the “Lord of the Rings” opened my Sixth Grade self up to a reality that didn’t end with the final paragraph of the book. All those people inside my head actually lived and breathed and were as real to me as my classmates around me. They all had stories to tell if I just learned how to listen.