“Well, I’m back”

Note: If you’re not a fan of spoilers, you might step back from this post in which I discuss the end of The Return of the King.

He drew a deep breath. ‘Well, I’m back,’ he said.

If you know The Lord of the Rings, specifically, The Return of the King (book 3), you’ll recognize those words and who said them. I don’t know about you, but I can’t read them without tearing up, no matter how many times I read them. No. Matter. How. Many. Times. Even now. And I have seen Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Return of the King an embarrassing amount of times. Every time I tear up.


It’s not just the perfection of that ending (and to me it is the perfect ending—so understated). It’s what’s behind it—the knowledge of the arduous journey Sam barely survived and the end of an era. That’s what resonates with me.

I’m rather hobbit-like. And not because I hate wearing shoes. I usually have to be dynamited out of my home and forced to go on an adventure. Bilbo Baggins could take lessons from me on how to cling to a hobbit hole. I’ve got that down to a science.

So I can appreciate the ending Tolkien devised: this weary hobbit returning home without his dearest friend and their mentor, Gandalf. But I finally realize why that ending was so satisfying to me. Though the journey had been difficult for Sam, Frodo, and the other companions, some of whom did not make it back alive, they were forever changed by it. Also, they had lived—really lived, something I don’t quite think I’ve been doing for the last oh ten years or so. Too busy trying to survive the day to day. Too busy also clinging to the fear of inadequacy, rejection, breaking a limb, or whatever else.

Depression changes the color of your life to a washed-out gray. Just getting up in the morning is sometimes difficult for me. So the thought of running from Ringwraiths or giant spiders repels yet excites me, because I don’t quite have those in my life. And when I get to the end of the adventure and Sam goes, “I’m back,” I can’t help thinking, Dude, it was hard, but you lived. Oh how you lived.

Other than heading to graduate school in another state for the last two years, I can’t recall the last adventure I’ve taken. (Well, there was that adventure of trying to find my way home from the unemployment office. . . .) Was it teaching at English Camp that summer in WuJiang, China in 2002? Perhaps. But note the year.

I used to be much more adventurous. I’m not sure how I became so circumspect. So, it’s time to make some changes before I become one of those old people who screams at kids to get off his or her lawn. It’s time I declared my independence from fear, from doubt, from whatever else is holding me back. It’s time I said, “Well, I’m back,” not because I’m relieved to return home but because the old me is back.

What will I do? I don’t know yet. I’ll let you know. How about you? Will you declare your independence with me? And by the way, I hope you have an enjoyable fourth of July! It will be Independence Day on so many levels, won’t it?

Photo of Sean Astin as Samwise Gamgee from fanpop.com.

36 thoughts on ““Well, I’m back”

  1. I love this post on so many levels. Love Tolkien, love how you relate to this story, how you see yourself inside this story (a sign of great writing, right?). Love, too, how you share your heart in every post. So genuine. Great, great post! Happy Fourth of July!!

    • Thanks, Sharon. You’re very kind. I’m not sure how my train of thought led to this post. I must have seen that Sam quote somewhere. And then of course that led me to wondering if there has ever been a time when I didn’t cry over that. Couldn’t think of one. Anyway, I’m glad it struck a chord with you.

  2. I agree totally with the above comment. Every day is pregnant with possibility for you, and I admire your declaration.

    • Ha ha! Does this mean we can ask you for cheese recommendations, since you’ve got that accent and everything and are heading back to England? (Still giggling about your post.)

  3. I am right beside you. It is good to see you, to hear the strength behind your fear. Life is hard. Sometimes, we have to kick it and show it who’s in charge.

  4. Great post Linda. I love that ending too. So much said in so few words. And I love that it’s Sam who says it. Sounds like you’re on the edge of a new threshold. Go for it!

    • I certainly hope so, Nancy. I think we all need one.
      Yes, Sam is one of my favorite characters (along with Faramir).

  5. YEAH! Love your rallying cry, L. Marie. And I love that your rallying cry is the understated quote from one of your beloved books. You are welcome to come to my mountain house anytime and go canoeing in the rain with me 😉

    • Ah. Haven’t done that since Girl Scout Camp. We kept turning in circles for some reason. I suspect that the fault was mine. Thanks for the invitation!

  6. I can relate to this SOOO much. I’ve been dealing with depression too, for far too long. And though I’m getting things done on the productive side of things and my professional life is on the up (as soon as I find a job, which I’m seeking hardcore), I feel like my personal life has been a wash lately. So thanks for sharing and making me reconsider my life and make some choices to have more adventures!

    • I’m sorry to hear about the depression, Victoria, though I suspected that we were twins separated at birth since I always get something out of your posts. (It’s like you were reading my journal sometimes.) So, here’s to both of us coming out of the dark cloud, and realizing we’re worth more.

  7. I’m so glad you are back! I so enjoy reading your posts and feel a kinship with you. Happy 4th, happy independence, and let the adventures begin!!

  8. Ah, Linda. You’re always an inspiration. I know sometimes the issue is that we crave adventure but we need both time and money (often) in order to go and have one. I would rarely have both at the same time. That surely contributes to depression. So I had to change my definition of “adventure” from “go to China” to something maybe a little more mundane but doable in my allotted time and budget. That’s a challenge. It’s still a challenge. It’s tough some days to just not feel like there’s anything worth doing. That’s where faith comes in. Faith that if I’m awake, then God has a reason for me still to be on the planet. . . love you, my friend.

    • Thank you, so much, Linda. Love you too. As usual you remind me to rethink my perspective. You’re right. There is a reason for me–for us both–to be here. 🙂

  9. You’re so brave to share that with us. I’m sure you’ll get to the point where you’ll feel able to do more exciting stuff again. Remember depression is an illness – it’s not about you or what you think of as your failings. It is what it is. As someone who has bipolar disorder I know what it’s like to feel frustrated by my limitations. You just have to work with it. You’ll get there. 🙂

  10. Thanks for sharing. I am constantly reviewing my life and trying to move forward at the same time. Stay strong in spirit and body!

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