1. My father read Tolkien to me as a kid. It was the 1960s.
2. Tolkien is still popular now. Sadly this fact more arises from movie reviews than book reads. Movies can be great, but also they lose so much. I wonder why people do not experience FOMO when they have only viewed the movie and there is a whole book waiting to be read?
3. A single book can change the world. Tolkien’s four books of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings created new worlds of imagination, changed the world of literature and the world of art would never be the same again.
4. My father’s copies had stiff cardboard covers encased in a red fabric fading to pinkish. The fabric was worn to threadbare in places such as the corners and finger grip sites. The spines were ragged and peeling.
5. The physical books themselves looked and felt to me as timeless as the story.
6. My father was in his late 20s or early 30s. He was full of energy. He loved to read.
7. I don’t know where those books went. I have owned other editions in paperback, but despite three rereads, they never read quite the same way.
8. Possibly one of my sisters still has those first Lord of the Rings books I inhabited.
9. In my teens, I met many people who read and reread Tolkien. Quite appropriately at the time, another thing we had in common was being permanently stoned.
10. Tolkien was interesting all over again in my teens while we smoked and toked like chimneys.
11. It didn’t matter who you mixed with when you were permanently stoned. Almost everyone was interesting in a pumped up, flattened out sort of way. So you could readily share Tolkien imagery in one way or another.
12. I met many people who thought they were connected to other worlds in that time. Middle Earth was often their gateway.
13. Middle Earth was my gateway to the other amazing worlds of sci fi and fantasy. They remain as close as I ever got to the more esoteric experiences though. Not for lack of trying.
14. Some people said they had mastered astral travelling. I liked the idea of watching my detached body from the ceiling while it lay on a bed or the floor or a couch below as I prepared to launch myself into otherworldly places.
15. I never mastered astral travelling. Although I did master tripping on several occasions.
16. As weird and wonderful as tripping could be, Tolkien’s Middle Earth was more real, coherent and creative. Eventually I decided I preferred the Middle Earths of this world.
17. Middle Earth has deep cultural experiences in which to partake. It is full of creativity, new beings, new languages, rituals, text based and oral histories, poetry and songs.
18. Every time a poem or song came along my father went into character such that he gave life to these many cultures so I could understand them better and live them through him.
19. As an adult I will never return to Middle Earth in quite the same way, so I am so grateful I went there first as a child.
20. I hope I have given some of the same experiences to my children as a father and I look forward to trying again as a grandfather.
21. To CRT Mathews and JRR Tolkien - I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the world of Middle Earth.
Finding Middle Earth