inter alia: Thorin Oakenshield and “Irons in the Fire”

We all go through ups and downs in life.  I look at my kids and remember when my biggest problem was that my mother refused to buy me the Nike shoes I wanted unless I paid for half, or that I was forced to comply with an 11:30 curfew when my friends could stay out until 12:00.  As an adult,  I can drive, I can vote, I can stay out all night if I want, but I still have to pay for my own damn shoes!  That’s the thing…I can have all of those adult freedoms, but the flip side is that I also have all of those pesky adult problems.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not the existence of the problems – they will always exist in some form or another.  The thing that has been really wearing on me lately is that resolving many of the current issues in my life has gotten to a point that is beyond my control.  I have done my part, but now I must wait until the powers that be do theirs.

I honestly don’t know how Richard Armitage copes with the constant uncertainty that seems to be part of the life of a professional actor. What will the next role be?  When will the next role come?  Will there be a next role?!  I suppose I’m a bit of a control freak.  I do not cope well with the anxiety of waiting while someone else decides my fate.

For the first time, I’ve felt a kind of kinship with Thorin Oakenshield.  Thorin is a capable leader who was powerless to stop the destruction of his home and the scattering of his people.

He does what he can to keep his people together and provide them with a future, whether it is leading them in battle or selling his services as a blacksmith to eke out a living.

After a century of scraping and struggling, of striving for a better life but always living at the whims of forces beyond his control, is it at any wonder that he is tense and taciturn?  When these situations come up one at a time, I can deal with relinquishing control, but lately it seems like virtually every sphere of my life requires me to wait and worry.   Like Thorin, I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire.   The anxiety can be excruciating and exhausting.

too-many-irons-in-the-fire (1)

When one of those irons comes out of the fire, successfully forged and worked into it’s finished form, it is a small victory.

iron Hammered Ladle small

Here’s where I fear that Thorin and I will differ.  I suspect that Thorin’s single-minded desire to recover Erebor will not allow him to see the value of lesser accomplishments.  For me, it’s precisely the small victories that provide the strength to persevere and finish working all the irons in my fire. This time the result might only have been a ladle, but the next finished product could be something so much greater!  Something worth the struggle.  Something life changing!

29 comments on “inter alia: Thorin Oakenshield and “Irons in the Fire”

  1. guylty says:

    Quick like and a promise to return later and comment properly. Thorin is a league of his own 😀

    • obscura says:

      He does seem to be a rich source of cautionary tales 🙂

      • guylty says:

        Right, back again. I feel with you re. heap of problems. I have them, too – although mine are very much of my own making. Or maybe I am overestimating myself/blaming myself too much, thinking that *I* have the power to resolve the issues. In any case, my existence so far has taught me to believe in and trust the power of the universe. Somehow, it always works things out in my favour :-D. Not particularly fast, though 😦
        Re. constant uncertainty: Now, obviously I am no actor, I am not in the public eye. But I can identify with the scenario you describe, because that is my life as a freelance photographer and writer. And I can tell you: Yes, it is stressful not knowing where you’ll be next year, never mind next month. The financial insecurity is a big stress factor for me personally. (RA, I would imagine, has his means of subsistence home and dry… frugal as he is ;-)) He, however, is probably under more pressure regarding the progress of his career. No project, no exposure. No exposure – you’re forgotten. Thank God, I do not have that. On the plus side, the life as an artist (or freelancer) can afford many liberties, such as planning your time as it suits you, sometimes you may pick and choose jobs, and within the creative professions, a hugely gratifying, exciting life where you meet many, many interesting people. Although I occasionally complain about the insecurity of being freelance, I would not ever change back into an employed, regular position (unless I had to for financial reasons). I am happy to accept the risks, live with them, and reap the rewards. It’s all about priorties, I suppose – and if acting is the life choice, and he truly believes that that is his destiny, he’ll accept the downs and difficulties that come with it… (Sorry for long exposition… I’m such a waffler)
        Thorin is a great role model, though, for absolute concentration on a singular goal. I wish I had more of the fanatic, blinkered tunnel vision with which Thorin bulldozes through the obstacles. (Let’s forget for a moment, that he does not reach his goal – really bad writing on Tolkien’s part *huffs*) However, he also has a bit more power than mere mortals have – he is, after all, the rightful king under the mountain, and can command an army (ok, a raggledyhaggledy group of dwarves). We can’t.
        Your conclusion is great, though – yes, every accomplishment counts, not just the big wins. Whether the Battle of the Five Armies is won or not – surviving the Orcs and the Stone Giants, escaping the Woodland Elves, and finally getting into the Mountain were feats worth fighting and winning. I think yours will be more than a ladle. I am hoping for a sword or something.

        • AgzyM says:

          I agree with Guylty somehow I always end up getting what I need, even though it’s not always what I want. Problems sort themselves out, one way or another. I usually just think whether it’s something I can do something about or am I getting my knickers in a twist over something I have no control over. If that’s the latter, then silly me, that makes no sense.
          I hope your uncertainties will resolve themselves, worrying about stuff is an absolute energy zapper, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

          • obscura says:

            I really do have hope for everything falling into place. I’m pretty sure that if I didn’t, I’d be a puddle by now. Part of my problem is doubtless that I come from a tradition of stability and planning for the future…my parents have been married for 50 years, they each worked at a single job for 40+ years before retiring with a sizable retirement package, we took family vacations at the same time every year, etc. Ironically, compared to my parents, I’m practically bohemian in my lifestyle. If it were only me, I’d be pretty comfortable with just saying que sera sera, but I also have kids, which changes the playing field a lot – not to mention, I’m a Virgo 🙂

          • Servetus says:

            This is something that often sticks in my craw — you come from that sort of family pattern and you’d really have liked that to have worked out for you, too, but the world isn’t that way for most people anymore … and shit happens … sympathizing strongly on this point.

          • obscura says:

            Would you like my dad’s number so you can explain that to him? He hasn’t gotten the memo that the kind of work life/retirement that he experienced is not the case for a whole lot of people of my generation. Yep, making the lemonade out of lemons is becoming a specialty of mine 🙂

          • Servetus says:

            maybe we should get our dads together. Our friendship is so great and they sound like they share a lot of basic attitudes, lol. Like a total ability to forget / ignore the huge economic shocks that have been going on the last five years …

          • obscura says:

            You should hear my dad’s take on my business travel! I’m pretty sure that if it were my husband needing to travel for work, it would be no problem – me? Not so much!

          • Servetus says:

            …sighs… it’s not too late to send them fishing together, is it? 🙂 or do we have to wait till the sturgeon spawn?

          • obscura says:

            IDK…can you put two curmudgeons in a 10′ boat safely? I don’t think my dad has ever been sturgeon spearing – that is well within the Badger basketball season 🙂

          • Servetus says:

            two curmudgeons on wanky ice in February …. hmmm. My dad doesn’t watch sports really apart from the Packers.

          • obscura says:

            OMG…My dad is a chronic sports-a-holic. Then he complains at the TV as he’s doing it. My mom has started watching in a different room. I asked him once (I think I was 10) why he watched the game if it upset him so much. I never asked again 🙂

        • obscura says:

          This post was actually precipitated because I did enjoy one of those small victories this week – definitely an iron ladle type thing, but I’m in a much better place than I was a week ago. I think you’re right about being willing to accept the risks when you believe in what you’re doing, and that may well be at the root of some of the things that I’m wondering about at the moment…I don’t know that I do believe that my current job is my place anymore and the “what is next” is a bit frightening, particularly since, right now, the financial burden of my household rests entirely upon my income…rock, meet hard place.

          Now as to Thorin – he certainly is a good example of dogged determination. I’ve been idly wondering what Tolkien was doing with Thorin…I have to go back and re-read, but Jackson’s version of Thorin is certainly rife with all sorts of interesting character traits.

          Funny you should mention swords…I originally had a picture of Ocrist at the end of the post, but took it out 🙂 Maybe my big win is a pen…mighter than the sword you know…

          • guylty says:

            The next step is the most frightening thing *ever*. I love this little sentence that someone once threw at me when I was dithering about my future plans. “What would you do if you were not afraid”. Cleared a few things up for me.
            I have to admit that I quite like Jackson’s interpretation of Thorin. I do not mind that he has adapted the character a bit – sure, it was always going to be an interpretation, anyway… I like that Thorin was made into an attractive, noble man, sliiiiiightly less grumpy, but much prettier *ggg*. (Oh God, I am belittling the majestic acting…) Upon reading the book, I was genuinely heartbroken when Thorin died at the end. I think, there could still have been a good moral in the book without obliterating the line of Durin. But well, it did effectively tie up loose ends…
            Haha, a metal pen? Go ahead, forge it. I do think that you wield a mighty sword…

  2. katie70 says:

    Good post, and I hope all works out for you. Mr. 70 is the one in our family that has more than his fair share of dealing with the unknown. With sort of two bosses that are never on the same page it is hard. He has one boss and then is contracted to work in the school, who thinks that they are his boss. He is piggy in the middle and some days he wants out, but keeps going for the students. I hope that I give him all the support that he needs to him get the job done. I always tell that he change the things that he can, but has to accept what he can not change. It is easy to say, but harder to do.

    I try to leave work at work. I also have a great place to destress and that is in Armitage world with a little fangurling. Music also works too. I do worry a lot but try not to let anyone see that side of me.

    Take Care!

    • obscura says:

      That is a big issue…being caught between two forces that I can’t control – of course, I do have the ability to remove myself from the field, but the consequences of that decision are pretty daunting. You are right though… accepting the things we can’t change is easier said than done 🙂

  3. Perry says:

    I work for myself like Guylty and Richard Armitage, Even though this is true for everyone, the feeling that your entire life, your very survival is in your own hands can be stressful enough- but when you add to it what you, Obscura, are talking about- the lack of control because you’re waiting on others or dependent on others to choose or select you- it can be paralyzing. In the end, one needs faith in oneself to make it through – and- something to take the mind off the wait – like this fandom. Best of luck.

  4. Servetus says:

    Just wanted to agree — yes, Thorin has a real problem with his perfectionist evaluation of what he’s doing — and yet, I admire him so much. He got me through last spring and all the uncertainty and the ultimate failure of a project that seemed doomed … that’s not a very cheery response, but I actually agree with you about the small victories 🙂

    • obscura says:

      Chronically cheerful people always make me nervous 🙂 There is a lot to admire in Thorin…there’s so much pathos in the idea that just a smidge in a different direction could produce a less tragic outcome.

  5. Joanna says:

    Oh,I know it’s very stressful for you and I imagine how uneasy for your husband this whole situation must be. Please try not to worry in advance, Obscura…if you can.. BTW,RAfangirling can be very helpful and healthy in such cases 😉 )

  6. […] Thorin Oakenshield and small victories — where Thorin gets it wrong. […]

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