A BLESSING AND A CURSE
"So, what's it like being immortal?" The question takes me by surprise. I turn towards the speaker, Pippin—ever the inquisitive and rather blunt one—wondering how I can possibly respond to such a broad inquiry. I've thought about it before, of course, what effect my immortality has on me. There are so many answers that I could give, though none of them could ever truly express all of my thoughts and feelings on the subject. It takes me a moment to answer and I can see that Pippin is getting somewhat impatient as he fidgets slightly on the log he is sitting on; I finally come up with an adequate response.
"'Tis both a blessing and a curse in many ways," I answer thoughtfully, stopping there to await the barrage of new questions my less than clear response will generate from the young hobbit.
"And what is that supposed to mean?" Pippin inquires, turning towards Merry as if to ask if he could explain to him what I meant. When Merry merely shrugged his shoulders in response, Pippin turned back towards me, his brows furrowed in thought. "Could you, perhaps, explain your answer to me, for I do not understand what you meant by it," he politely requests. How can I refuse? But before I have the chance to answer, the dwarf suddenly, and quite rudely might I add, cuts in.
"You are not alone in your confusion, young Master Hobbit. The way of the elves seems to be to always speak in riddles. I sometimes wonder if they do it purposefully so as to avoid having to answer, or perhaps they find it amusing to baffle us 'mere mortals' with their nonsensical replies," Gimli says seriously, talking to Pippin, though I can tell that his response is really aimed towards me. He can never refuse a chance to mock me, now can he?
"It seems to me, Master Dwarf, that it is you who finds amusement in the reactions your words generate," I respond, not letting myself be bothered by Gimli's bantering. Not wanting to give him a chance to refute, I immediately launch into a response to Pippin's question. "I suppose that I can attempt to explain myself more fully, though anything more in depth than that which I have already expressed cannot completely answer the question which you have asked me to answer, for there are many responses that I could give to you on the subject. I will try, however, to give you a better understanding of my words. And as to elves speaking in riddles: We find it better to give an ambiguous response to a question which has many answers and let others make of it as they will. Many times, one specific answer does not do the question justice.
"I am sure you already know much of what I am about to say of the blessings of immortality, for mortals often look upon living forever in a positive light. Naturally, we have more time to spend on our endeavors, whether it be in learning skills or having a family. With thousands of years at our disposal, we have time to learn many things and learn these things more completely and competently than a mortal has opportunity or inclination to do. We have much time to ponder the workings of the world and gain wisdom through our many experiences throughout the years. But although time is a gift to us in many ways, it also causes us much grief.
"We are cursed to watch as the world changes and shifts and the fleeting lives of mortals come and go so quickly by our own reckoning. Although many think that we are too arrogant and proud to mix with those of the mortal races, it is merely that we are too pained by their inevitable death that comes too quickly in our eyes to wish to form any real attachments to them. One year of the human reckoning is equivalent to 144 years by way of the elves. Humans die long before they reach what would be a year's time in our age and the length of their healthy, adult lives is far less than that. Can you imagine only having chance to spend half a year with someone before death seizes them away from you? Or forming a bond with someone knowing that in no time at all they will find their way to the halls of Mandos and that there is nothing you can do to stop it from happening? While they are doomed to die, we are doomed to grieve their passing until the end of time..."
I stop for a moment, realizing that I have already exposed too much. I glance quickly in the direction of the log on which Pippin is resting, wanting to gauge his reaction to what I have said thus far. He appears both startled and deeply saddened by the revelations I have revealed to him; I am sure that he believed his original question to be a simple and relatively easy one to answer. He did not expect this.
"I hope that explanation appeases some of your curiosity, young hobbit. I fear that I can say no more on the subject, for I have already spoken much more than I intended and far plainer than my want. I hope that I shall not make a habit of this, for what then would my fellow elves think if I should slip and speak in such a way to them as well? Although you mortals may like your answers clear cut and straight forward, my kin prefer the riddles in which they converse; it gives us much more to ponder, but then again, we have all the time in the world to do so," I interject in a teasing manner in an attempt to lighten the melancholy mood which settled upon my companions upon my telling of the curse of immortality. I give them what I mean to be a somewhat quirky smile, though it comes out sadder than I aimed for and it fools no one.
All is silent for a moment, the tenseness only partially diffused by my failed attempt at levity. The dwarf, always the one to ease our mind in dark times, takes it upon himself to bring humor back to the company. "Elves," he mutters gruffly under his breath, shaking his head in a manner that suggests that he shall never come to understand the ways of the first-born. Although it is probably true in many respects, it still brings a smile to my face and does likewise to the others.
I should never have thought that I would form such a close friendship with a dwarf, especially this one in particular. In fact, the bond I feel between each of the members of the fellowship is quite unexpected, though not unwelcome. I know that even should we all survive the coming war (a more than unlikely feat), I will still be parted from my friends far too soon. And, although the thought greatly pains me and I am aware that my grief will be nearly unbearable when the time comes, I cannot find it within myself to regret the friendship I have found among these representatives of the mortal races whom shall live forever in my thoughts.