Your story is confusing, something people debate all the time even today. Were you the hero? Did you succeed in your quest, or was your failure to destroy the ring part of a tragic allegory for human existence? Everyone who has read your story has an opinion on that.
I always wondered what your opinion was. I think most people tend to be overly hard on themselves. How did you see yourself, after the ring was destroyed and you returned to the Shire and realized you were never going to be okay again?
It’s okay to not be okay. It doesn’t make you less of a hero. At least, that’s what I tell myself, what I try and tell others who are suffering. Not being okay isn’t a weakness, it’s just a part of being human, or hobbit in your case. It’s just that, well, knowing that doesn’t make it hurt less. And after a while, you start to worry that you’ll never be okay again. And you weren’t, not in the Shire that you saved anyway.
Were you okay again after you arrived in the Grey Lands across the sea? Did you find peace there? Was it the peace of death and stillness, or of life and renewal? The elves were always sort of vague on that, but there are so many different kinds of peace. I think a rapturous or joyful afterlife that some religions describe would feel wrong, fake, forced. To be honest, I’m not sure what I would even hope for, if there is some sort of “going on” waiting for us in the end.
But back to my original point- did you ever see yourself as a hero? I think you should, because I think you succeeded on your quest. The choices you made- to spare Gollum, to lean on Sam, to continue on when all seemed lost- those choices are what destroyed the ring, even if it wasn’t your hand that threw the ring into the fire. Had you acted differently, even a little, the ring would not have been destroyed and Sauron would have been victorious.
Maybe that’s the kind of peace I hope for, on a smaller scale, after my life is finished. Knowing that the choices I made were important, that even if in the end I’m not okay and I didn’t succeed the way I thought I would.
There’s one last thing I wanted to say to you- they say martyrs die alone. Regardless of whether or not you were a hero, in my opinion there is no argument against you being a martyr. And even though you felt that the Shire could never be home for you again… I hope you found home, in the end, even if it turns out you weren’t a hero. I hope you didn’t die feeling alone, if dying is something that happens in the Grey Lands or if going there is in itself dying. If an afterlife is something that exists… well, I think it should feel like the sort of peace that comes from being truly home.
Like I said, it’s okay to not be okay. But I hope you were. I hope we all are, heroes or not, at the end of all things.