Are You a Took or a Baggins?

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I’m working on a re-read of The Hobbit, and I’m reminded that it was not the Baggins side of Bilbo that spurred him on toward adventure. It was his mother’s side: Belladonna Took. Upon first meeting the wizard, the Baggins side wanted to leisurely sit with Gandalf outside and smoke all day.

Gandalf meant to wake up Bilbo’s Took side.

There is nothing particularly wrong with either side, of course. On most days, I wish I could be a Baggins, sitting around reading, eating, smoking a pipe. (Yes, smoking a pipe. Sorry.) But you know if you’re familiar with Tolkien, you know you’re not allowed to ignore the Fallen world in which we live. Before Bilbo knows it, he’s got 13 dwarves and a wizard in his home telling a tale of a dragon who destroyed and killed and pillaged and plundered.

The peace of the Shire is a wonderful thing, but ultimately an illusion. Or perhaps better: a glimpse of our final peace, but not something that can be enjoyed uninterrupted in this fallen world.

Fairy stories often do to us exactly what Gandalf did with Bilbo: they awaken in us a desire for adventure, for quest, for danger, for carrying swords and righting wrongs and rescuing people in distress. So, questions for discussion:

Are you inclined more toward your Took side or Baggins side?

 

If you’re a Baggins, what brings out your adventurous Took side?

If you’re a Took, where do you find the peace of the Shire in the midst of your adventures?


34 Comments

  1. PaulH

    1. I am constantly looking for a quiet moment and I do smoke a pipe. Baggins all the way.
    2. It could be anything. One minute I am content with simplicity and the next, I hear of some injustice, or wrong done and want to fight.
    3. I do try to read one hour a day… but I am not a full Took either.

  2. Margret

    “To think that I should have lived to be good-morninged by Belladonna Took’s son, as if I was selling buttons at the door!”

    Oh, that we all could awaken to our real potential and understand our status quo really isn’t as good as we perceive it to be! Well, we can. Unfortunately, I come from a long line of quitters (with the occasional scrapper/survivor popping up at random intervals) so when things are hard for me but the way to make it better is even harder I want things to remain as they are because I’m certain it’s all I can bear.

    Thankfully, the Lord knows that trying to keep things as they are will eventually kill me. He also knows my life will be better if I go on the long, scary adventure of improving my lot and I’ll be better suited to help others when I do so…even if I submit in a hurry and forget something I perceive to be absolutely essential.

    Thanks, Travis, for the reminder that God is in the business of saving us, not limiting our salvation to the cross and resurrection of Jesus (and all that encompasses), but also being intimately involved in the details of our lives so that, day by day, our lot is improving.

    All of Heaven’s best to you and yours,
    Margret

  3. Lanier Ivester

    I will be quite honest and admit that the awakening of my latent streak of Tookishness came as a complete and utter surprise to me and was a profound moment of blessing in the Lord. Seven years and counting and I have never been the same since–thanks be to God. 🙂
    This is not to negate the Baggins side. Not in the least. The contemplative self that I have been comfortable with most of my life still loves to dream by the fire with a cup of tea and perhaps a spot of sherry (the ladies’ equivalent of feet on the fender, pipe in mouth?). It’s just that the dreams are a bit wilder than they once were and they are haunted by the music of the pine trees and the waterfalls of a land I have never visited.
    What stirs it? I would definitely say images out of ordinary life that pull aside the scrim between this world and the next–if only momentarily–and give me glimpses of the eternal verities. Moments in which Truth is illumined by way of art, music, song, books–oh, especially books–and in the faces of other fellow creatures. In the majesty and beauty of God’s creation.

  4. Marit

    A bit of both. I think my Took side has been subsided by listening to much of the opinions of others. That side is easier to live out being away from the Shire on special occasions, than in everyday life.

  5. Andrew Peterson

    @andrew

    Great post, Travis. It made me happy to see that hobbit cover first thing this morning.

    When I was younger I was a Took, through and through. If Gandalf had shown up in Lake Butler with a gaggle of dwarfs I would have grabbed my skateboard and sketchpad and left without a second thought. And in fact, when I was 18 and the opportunity arose, I did just that–only I had ditched the skateboard and picked up a guitar by then.

    Nowadays I ache for the Shire. As much as I love to travel and play my songs, I prefer my wife and children’s company, a pipe on the porch, and a fine Spring day. Maybe it’s that Jamie’s such an awesome cook.

    As for waking up the Took: I think, to varying degrees, there ought to be a little of both in all of us. Part of the beauty of Bilbo (and Frodo’s) makeup is that they’re conflicted. It’s their desire to see the world and/or set things right that makes them long for the Shire (or Rivendell) even more. Their love for the one feeds their love for the other.

  6. Kendall Ruth

    Fully Both.
    I enjoy the calm of a read, a smoke, and good company. And it seems what makes for good company stirs and kindles the fires to head out into the risky dance of any adventure.

  7. J. A. Roelfsema

    Originally a Baggins through and through, I have spent the last 4-5 years, and particularly the last 2, trying to become a Took, as I realized I had responsibilities, to family and friends, that I was not properly handling. These past two years in Grad School I have tried to be nearly all Took, and that is very dangerous, for I nearly lost the reason why one should be Took at all. I dream again of the Shire and have begun to enjoy such glimpses as I receive day to day, while not entirely letting go of being Tookish. And I now yearn for adventure and pursue it rather than just dream. I suppose my experience has been the exact opposite of yours, AP.

  8. candle

    interesting note. i have grown up in a home where Dad is a Took through and through, which has resulted in numerous family adventures. my mom comes from the Baggins’ stock, but has admiringly stayed beside her husband in all his outlandish quests…. then they had a kids. we were raised “Took”. but, as someone earlier pointed out, as time goes by and i get older, i find great enjoyment in discovering the Baggins’ side of life. except, i have to say it is the Baggins that “returned from his adventures” that i find i am becoming; the Bilbo that now sits, smoking and writing about all those experiences on mountain-top adventures, meeting the dragons that challenged me through the years, bringing me to the place i am now.

  9. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    In the past 2 1/2 years I’ve spent a lot of time working at home. The Baggins side has been sitting on the throne most of the time. Excessive comfort seems to lead to a dulling of my faculties, but it always ends up awakening the Took side.

    I’ve always loved a balance, the beauty of a career involving travel. On a road trip, the Took side gets indulged; to return home is a delight to Baggins.

    If this was an S.D. Smith post I would have started out by telling him smoking is wrong.

  10. Sam

    I’m gonna have to go with Baggins. I like things quiet and peaceful. But, I do love an adventure when the opportunity arises. 🙂

  11. Lydia Presley

    I’m definitely a Baggins. I love the comfort and peace of home and adventure worries me. That said, a good friend, a close family member, or even a really good book can inspire me to seek adventures and prompt me to investigate interesting and unique places to visit and things to do.

    I read The Hobbit out loud to my nephew at the end of last year and I was reminded of just how readable the book is. It’s even more so out loud and I’m working now on a re-read of the LotR trilogy.

  12. Laura Droege

    I’m a Baggins most of the time. However, certain things bring out the Took in me: seeing the flagrant injustice and fallenness of our world. Recently, I’ve heard of 2 heartbreaking news stories involving children being exploited. Last year, I heard of another similiar story that gripped my heart.

    Those things bring out the Took in me: I want to take up a sword and start righting wrongs, I want to fight the darkness, I want to do something to change things.

    After the first story, I slammed my fist on my desk and told God, “If I ever see someone being hurt like that, give me the guts to wade in and beat the crap out of those people.” In the second case, all I could do was fall on my face and grief for this young girl and her family.

  13. Brad hill

    I love this post! What a good word. I feel like most with a bit of both, desiring an evening with ole Toby and an adventure with Gandalf. Is it possible that there is a time for both. A time for adventure and a time to sit back and enjoy just being. I pray when the time comes to go on an adventure with God where ever he calls that i will gladly step out of my door and kick my feet to be swept off to the place God wants me to go.

  14. RG

    I am very much a Baggins, always reluctant to leave the warm fire and hot chocolate for the snow boots and hats and gloves required for a toboggan run. Thank God toboggans are so wonderful.

  15. Paula Shaw

    For the last 3 years, I’ve been exceedingly Baggins-ish, but as of yesterday, the Took is calling loud and clear. Here’s hoping for a good balance of both. The only down side is the hairy feet. It’s hard to handle that as a girl. . . really.
    😉

  16. Connor

    I am a Baggins when the coffee pot is brewing and my tea water boiling and there is naught to do in a day but bake and read and eat.

    I am a Took when I am seized by the collar and placed in front of a writing desk and suddenly, words pour forth. I am a Took in the woods of spring and autumn.

    It has always been a tension within me, the homebody pulling against the rover. By the grace of the All-Father, I hope to find a balance, though I foresee many more Kerouac days ahead.

  17. Duane

    Baggins all the way. Homeschool Dad of 4 boys. Get whupped easily. My tookish side aroused has been aroused recently by Donald Miller’s latest “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years”. Really inspires you to go out and create your real living stories instead of waiting for stories to be created for you. Alsio, at one time, John Eldridge’s overly popular “Wild At Heart” was meaningful to me when I read it. I know a lot of men don’t relate to it, and I can’t see it being popular in this forum, but it was a good read for me.

  18. David Van Buskirk

    I unabashedly glorified the Took side for the past decade. During that period, I went to school away from home. Worked in Ireland and traveled through Europe. Mountaineered in the Italian and Austrian Alps. Sailed from England to the Canary Islands. Thru-Hiked the Appalachian Trail (to raise money for clean water projects in Africa). Got a job at Starbucks. Worked at a Mall-Santa photography booth. Went on the road representing a non-profit. Recorded an album. Moved to Nashville. Biked across the United States, (to raise money for MORE clean water projects in Africa). Traveled to Africa. and Started a graphic design business.

    Now I am really tired. I want to get a teaching job and be a Baggins. The truth is, I did all of those things, or at least partly did most of those things because I thought it was a better way to live. I read verses like, Matthew 8:20 and Mark 10:29-31 and became convinced that it could only be the weak and sinful part of me that would give in to being comfortable, or even happy. Words like success and stability were code for ‘sinful pleasure’ and I decided I would avoid those snares.

    It has taken about two years of breaking for me to realize what the Bagginses have that the Tooks don’t. Community. Stability. Steady income. The opportunities I was able to take advantage of were only there because of the grace and love and foresight of a great many Bagginses.

    As a roaming Jesus-vigilante Took, I saw the surface of an awful lot of things, but missed the beauty that comes from plumbing the depths of a community and the satisfaction that comes from sticking to a well planned coarse. All of my travels have brought me to a place where I want that community and am finally willing to take the risks necessary to be a part of it. A balance is clearly the way to go, but I am currently enamored with the Bagginses. I love that they are there, behind the scenes, keeping the world turning, so the Tooks have a place to land from time to time.

  19. Jaclyn

    I’m a Took at heart with long-established Baggins habits, like a thickly woven sweater. Right now my Took heart is ready to burst through the seams.

    So David, a decade of Took is feasible before I’m Took-ed out? =). “I want to see mountains, Frodo, mountains!” Truthfully, my current adventure settling into community sweeps me into all manner of danger and excitement. Still, I feel in certain areas of life my feet have dug such deep treads in the grass that I want to set the whole garden ablaze; it’s so easy to fall back into those tracks. Somehow I need to channel the passion make only the changes necessary; let the seedlings grow.

    I think what is attractive to the Baggins side of life is the mystery in repetition. With every repeat, questions arise: How is this round different? What will I learn from this revolution? Instead of falling down dizzy, I need to remind myself to look for answers to those questions, and enjoy another trip around.

  20. Jaclyn

    Ooh, and I forgot to answer the 3rd question:

    The Rabbit Room! also:

    a good cup of tea or red wine, my purple painted reading room stuffed with books, and rainy weather. Curiously, the last one serves both sides.

  21. David H

    I wish to be a Baggins, though I’m not sure I ever was a Took.

    Sure I have had adventures of sorts. There have been mountains scaled and one, in Germany, slid down on my backside through a couple thousand vertical feet of rain-soaked Alpine meadow. There have been brushes with death, though I’m not sure which was the closer call — amoebic dysentery in Honduras or the emergency flight back to Mexico City on a plane whose floor had holes large enough for me to see jungle streaming between my feet. And there may have been dragons, though I myopically saw them as windmills and they disdained me as too insignificant to destroy.

    However, to be a Baggins one needs a hole. “Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat….”

    A Baggins needs a comfortable home. A home set in The Hill, not simply a hill. And The Hill needs to be firmly planted in The Shire and all that means.

    What I lack isn’t the desire to be a Baggins, but a sense of The Shire or at least how to get there.

    When I was younger and adventuring I thought there was The Hill and a home to which I could always return. But over a couple of decades I learned that what I thought of as The Shire more resembled the polluted place to which Sam and Frodo returned after destroying the Ring. However, for them it was coming back to a place that had terribly changed during their absence. I slowly realized the terribleness had always been there waiting for me to open my eyes and see.

    Rather than a Baggins or a Took, I am Bilbo lost between the gloom of Mirkwood and forbidding peaks of the Misty Mountains. Besides my children, what keeps me going, what awakens in me the will to fight on, is the sense that there are travelers in this mapless waste with even less sense of direction than myself. And the mountains we must cross are full of orcs.

    Unfortunately, and this has been among the most painful realizations of my life, I once thought those monsters were my people. Now I look with sadness on the Redhorn Pass, knowing that the road to Rivendell, The Shire and, at long last, The Havens is barred by those who see themselves as heroes of The Faith. They are not creatures preying on the weak and downtrodden. They believe themselves to be the righteous protectors of the holy gates.

    I don’t want an Elven sword with which to smite them. I lack the strength and skill to win such a battle. But more than that, though their appearance is ugly, I am often reminded most have some goodness within. Yet how difficult they make it to tell those around me in the wilderness about The Creator and his loving son. How hard they make it to offer any path for the journey’s start or promise of a journey’s end. How carelessly they deny the hope to any not like them of hole and hill and what lies beyond havens grey.

  22. Mike

    Baggins mostly but there’s something about a river and a canoe and trout over a fire that raises the hair on the back of my neck. I do like my pipe by the fire however. Never been much of a fighter though.

  23. James K

    I like to think of myself as a Took, but I’m a natural Baggins. Going to Haiti woke up the Took in me, I’m hoping to see more of him around…

  24. Loriann S.

    Some are born Tooks, some achieve Tookness, and some have Tookness thrust upon them… I am by nature a Baggins. As C.S. Lewis says “You can’t get a book long enough or a cup of tea big enough to suit me.” But when my husband and 14 year old daughter were seriously injured in a head on with a drunk driver, I found my inner Took coming out, forcing me to climb mountains without comfy cabins along the way. I love the natural born Tooks of the world, folks who wrestle down fear without much fuss. I am not one of them. But the Great One put some Took in all of us. Sometimes it takes some dark road to pull the Tookiness out.

  25. Mary

    I am a Baggins by nature, but my sister and my church collectively thrust Tookness upon me. My sister inspires me to heights of Tookishness; my church dumps the dragons on me and hopes I have Tookishness.
    I try to balance.

  26. Denise Roper

    “I will take the Ring, though I do not know the way.”

    Aren’t Bilbo and Frodo Baggins more adventurous than they would seem at first?

    My apartment does resemble a Hobbit hole containing lots and lots of books. I love Elves, or at least I love Legolas. He looks so much like that cute pirate guy…

    Some of my best friends are wizards, or at least they dress like them: Snape, Bellatrix, Augusta Longbottom… I guess I do go to too many Harry Potter conventions.

    “Fool of a Took!”

    That is my conclusion.

    If anyone wants to know my more serious thoughts about The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, please visit my blog at http://phoenixweasley.wordpress.com and my author site at http://www.outskirtspress.com/thelordofthehallows.

  27. Pracades

    Chris Whitler said:
    My heart is a Baggins. My mouth is a Took.

    Chris, I love this. Describes me to a T. Gets me in trouble too! I wish it were the other way around. I am a Baggins longing to be a Took. For the past two years I have felt a push towards adventure but haven’t had a chance to take the right opportunity yet. Although raising three kids is quite an adventure in itself, is it not?

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