“Sorry, I don’t want any adventures, thank you. Not today.”
If you’ve ever visited the Shire — whether in print or on the silver screen — you may recognize these as the words of one of its most famous residents, Bilbo Baggins.
“We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures,” he informs Gandalf the Grey in J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit, adamantly proclaiming, “Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!”
The thing is, he’s right. And not just about adventures making one late for dinner.
You see, Bilbo understood something many of us in our modern culture and first-world society forget. It’s this: Adventures aren’t simply exciting, thrill-seeking activities.
In fact, the kind of adventures the inhabitants of Middle Earth knew weren’t thrill-seeking activities at all. They weren’t intentionally chosen based on fear levels or how strong one’s stomach was. And they certainly didn’t require a signed consent form. After all, who were they going to sue? Smaug? While he was certainly good for the money, I doubt he honored legalese.
Rather, as Merriam-Webster points to, adventures at their core are “an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks.” They are often, as Bilbo aptly labeled them, disturbing and most definitely uncomfortable.