‘Riddles in the Dark’ is the fifth chapter in The Hobbit, written by J.R.R. Tolkien; the book I didn’t feel was important enough to read when it was assigned in my Grade 11 English class. I am not sure what was more important at that moment, but today I am reminded and extremely grateful for the laughter and patience of Miss Kaplan, my English teacher at the time.
It cannot be seen, cannot be felt
Cannot be heard, cannot be smelt
It lies behind stars and under hills,
And empty holes it fills.
It comes first and follows after,
Ends life, kills laughter.
The answer to the riddle is darkness.
We have all experienced darkness. No exception.
Every human life is an unwritten and unpublished manuscript. It is a novel no one gets to read. As people we are always on the move. This morning I pretended that this darkness is not there because on most mornings we do not see it, feel it, hear it, or smell it. But it is there. It is real. It demands our attention.
For me this darkness is fear.
I’m afraid that the faith I have in God is nothing more than a childish illusion. I fear that as much as I hope to once again embrace my mom and dad in Heaven, it is a childish notion and I’m an educated adult. There will not be an embrace. The little hoarse voice inside my head, constantly shows me the vastness of the cold universe, its infinite nothingness; a complete and meaninglessness void.
I’m afraid I am not where I should be, but rather, like the moon, I keep circling around happiness, always close enough, but somehow too far away, forever chained to the gravitational pull and demands of a society I do not understand. A materialistic society, that uses people and loves things. A society that loves heroes, but eventually, martyrs every single one of them.
I fear that the actions I take yesterday, and the words I utter today, will not serve my children tomorrow, when the world lines up to kick them in the teeth and attempts to grind them down. They are so little, so innocent, so magnificent. I fear the day they trade their joy and laughter for a full time job.
Fear is definitely my darkness, but it is foolish to think that a riddle tells a story.
A riddle is just that, a riddle. And fear? Like a riddle, fear is just fear. It doesn’t do anything. It aims to make us scared. In the end we have the choice to climb over it, or dive into the hole with it.
Despite everything I am alive and so are you.
There are wonderful people in our lives and they mean everything to us. There are also people like Miss Kaplan, who have come and gone, but who have forever shaped our direction, and flavoured our existence. The people in our life are just as real as our fear, except we can see them, feel them and hear them. If you have to smell them, perhaps they ate too many burritos.
Let us make a promise not to avoid fear or be crippled by it any longer.
It speaks loudly and it speaks often.
Let’s be lovers of the light, forever waiting on the dawn. Let us remember that the stars we see are also suns. The burn every so brightly, millions and millions of light years away. Let’s not focus on how little light they give. Let us remember that hope is always present, and despite time and distance, it still gets here.
It’s time to abandon the riddles in the dark and time to compose poems of the morning.
Laugh if you can, but smile you must.