I'm watching Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and I can't help but to wonder if I'd make a better Hobbit than Human in Tolkien's Middle Earth.
Granted, I can't very well say that I'd make a lousy human. I am human, after all, but Tolkien's Middle Earth requires a set of skills and qualities that my modern, soft world has little in common with. The humans, especially the ones depicted in the more primitive Second Age. For the purposes of this exercise, I'm going to stick to the humans of the Third Age.
Hobbits, on the other hand, have a more nomadic disposition in the Second Age. They stay hidden and travel through the land in camouflaged garments that are ready to conceal them at a moment's notice. The Hobbits of the Third Age are more laid back and relaxed. Their homes are cozy and dug into the earth where they remain for generations. These are the Hobbits I feel the most connected to.
So, we're down to Humans and Hobbits of the Third Age. Which community would I be best suited for if I were to suddenly find myself in the magical world of Middle Earth?
The Humans of Gondor and Rohan are hearty folk. They fight for home and family, maintain solid traditions, and face tough challenges like poverty, starvation, war, and political violence. These issues are not unlike the ones faced by countless people throughout the real world.
For the most part, maintaining a job within the community and being mindful of your needs and those of your family are the keys to survival. Communities thrive or die on the contributions of their members. While humans in Middle Earth certainly have a widely skewed class system, it is based in reality and as such is perfectly navigable by modern folks... with some adjustment.
Orcs, goblins, and other mythical creatures are a real threat to humankind. Humans are required to maintain constant vigilence, guarding villages and caravans from invaders. Humans themselves are a major threat as raiders and pirates are in abundance throughout the realm.
Humans may be inheriting Middle Earth from the magical races, but they're getting nothing for free. They still have to navigate the complex political landscape between Elves, Dwarves, and neighboring kingdoms.
In short: Humans have hard lives in Middle Earth. The quality of your existence depends greatly on where you fall in the socio-economic ladder. Peasants undoubtedly have it the hardest while nobility enjoys luxuries between adventures.
Where should I start with Hobbits of the Third Age? They enjoy relaxation and simple pleasures in life. Gardening and eating are among their primary sources of enjoyment.
They stay out of global politics and avoid war, for the most part. For many Hobbits, the occasional unexpected guest is the most exciting thing to happen. Drinks at the pub, songs among friends, and blowing smoke rings are things Hobbits look forward to at the end of a long day.
As Bilbo Baggins said, "There's nothing wrong with celebrating a simple life."
It's easy to run afowl of your Hobbit community. Simply be the sort of Hobbit that seeks adventure. Hobbits judge each other by their predictability. A Hobbit that doesn't stir up trouble or go off on wild adventures is an admirable Hobbit. Meanwhile, the ones that do are considered to be troublemakers, whispered about unpleasantly at the pub.
Years of monotony can be incredibly taxing. I'm not sure I could handle avoiding making a scene or doing something unexpected for long in a close-knit Hobbit community such as the Shire.
After weighing the pros and cons, I'd have to say that the life of a Hobbit is far more appealing to me. Perhaps it's my age, or my love of second breakfast, but I find the relaxed existence of a Hobbit to be far more appealing than the cold, harsh reality of humanity in Middle Earth.