“I am not trying to rob you, but to help you. I wish you would trust me.”
-Gandalf in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring
I’m still not super comfortable driving stick, and here’s why: I read The Fellowship of the Ring (lots of times, actually) when I was a kid, but I never quite listened to Gandalf.
Lots of people taught me how to drive. Most of the time I learned in my mom’s automatic, but my brother kept offering his manual Jeep Wrangler. I kept putting it off. One day we went off to the beach, climbed on rocks, chased some waves (we could catch them, but then they’d catch us), and walked, tired, back to the Wrangler.
“You should drive,” he said.
“Oh, not today,” I said, which was a variation of what I’d been saying for three months.
“Come on. The first roads are quiet, anyway.”
“Thanks, but I’m tired.”
And then we sank our feet down into the ground we weren’t going to give up.
“You’re driving us home.”
bsp; “You don’t get to decide what I do.”
He tossed me the keys.
I didn’t catch them.
All I could see was someone trying to make me do something I’d decided not to do. I wasn’t going to let that happen. At the time I had no idea what my brother was seeing. Didn’t he know it was my choice?
We sat on the top of the bluffs for a long time. I’d decided I wasn’t going to lose. I’m grateful that he saw past the lose/win stupidity, because after it got dark he picked up the keys, looked at me, and said–I can still remember his anger, his hurt, and the respect that stayed wrapped around both of them–
“You need to learn when someone’s trying to screw you, and when someone’s trying to help.”
Then he drove us home.
I think I’ve done the same thing, again and again, just like Bilbo in The Fellowship of the Ring. Gandalf is pushing Bilbo to give up the golden ring, and Bilbo can take that and twist Gandalf into a thief. But he’s not a thief. He’s a friend.
I wish I’d seen my brother, not some make believe ogre forcing me to (horror of horrors) learn. I think it’s inevitable to miss some of what’s offered, to misread some of what’s said, but I want to trust a little more. I want to dig in my heels a little less. That way I can appreciate, and accept, more of the help that’s offered.
Oh: and I want to drive my brother back to the beach.