The Backpack


What’s the only thing scarier than a roommate who is controlling your mind? Thats a good question. But perhaps this week I found its answer. I was sitting on my porch again… because its actually started to get cool again. And for all you skeptics out there, no I was not drinking root beer. I was drinking water. If there’s something wrong with that then just shoot me. Don’t literally shoot me though, its just an expression. Anyways, I was sitting on the porch drinking water, and doing my homework, minding my own business. I looked across the street and waved to some friends who were sharing my experience (of sitting on a porch) themselves. It was a nice afternoon, with a brisk wind and one of my neighbors came out of his door with his backpack on.

“Must be going to class,” I thought as I gave him a nice friendly wave and a smile… “At 7:00 p.m.???” It was weird, but hey whatever. I mean who schedules classes that late… really? Then I guessed it. Of course. He was probably going to study at the library. Thats why his backpack was so full. It all made sense now. I don’t even know why I cared really, I mean after all it’s not really my business. I watched as this particular neighbor got on his bike and started to ride away on his bike to… I guess the library. Then again he could have been going to Common Grounds.

But then something peculiar happened. Because he didn’t go to Common Grounds, and he didn’t go to the library either. He didn’t even go to Peter Piper Pizza(but then again, why would he?). As he mounted his Bicycle and started to ride it out of his parking lot (also my parking lot), he didn’t. Instead, he just started riding it around in circles in the parking lot. “Huh,” I thought to myself, because what else could I think at this point. You may be thinking to yourself, “thats not that strange,” but before you do think about it a little harder as I have. Is there anything strange about riding your bike around in circles in a parking lot…. Well now that I think about it, that is a little strange, but definitely excusable. The fact that he was wearing his backpack, while he was riding is the unnatural thing. He wasn’t going anywhere. He didn’t need his backpack on. After taking the circular route through the parking lot about 7 or 8 times, he put his bike back and went back inside his house (backpack still on), leaving me with one question. What was in that backpack, and what in the world had just happened?

I’m sure you thought of the obvious explanations, just as I did. Maybe he owned a ferret that loved to ride on bikes, but had to be kept in the darkness of the backpack because its eyes had just been dilated. This was my first assumption as well, but after serious consideration I realized that there’s no way the ferret could have breathed in there, and it probably would have gotten backpack sick, just like us humans get carsick. Maybe he was really gullible and had bought the backpack from someone who told him that it was actually a jet pack, and only turned on if you travelled in a 20 by 30 yard ellipse at least 7 times without your feet touching the ground. Or then again, maybe he had just watched E.T. and had a bit of an imagination. Of course I’m sure you”re all thinking of the more obvious answer as I was: that he was actually a blind person in disguise and his backpack was a new development of balancing technology. He’d accidentally set it to the circular setting without knowing it, and had gone back into his house to fix it out of embarrassment.

Was it possible? Ya. Sure it was. It was just that I had talked to this guy before and I’m not going to lie, he made exceptional eye contact, which ruled out the blind theory. I was back to square one, with one choice. I needed to see what was in that backpack… Or did I? Maybe this time I just needed to let things lie and let people mind their own business. After all, I’ve never been a suspicious person so why should I start now? So I decided to do absolutely nothing about it. No investigations, nothing. But then the next night, it happened again. Next night. Same thing. Then I noticed something even stranger, because I think my neighbor started figuring out someone was watching him. He would always come out as he got on his bike, pause and then look up at me. I knew something wasn’t right, but I wasn’t about to poke into this psychos private affairs, even if they were in my parking lot.

Then one night something happened. Something I never could have expected. The guy came out, and rode around his bike, just like usual but this time he stared at me extra long, like he was upset or something, like he thought I knew too much. I waved and glared as I did. At this point in the story it’s important that you know something that not many people know, and that is that I recently installed what is referred to as an I.A.D.O.E.C.D.O.P.A. for personal reasons that will not be discussed. What do those letters stand for? For those of you who don’t know, its an “Interceptor and Decoder of Emails Containing Dangerous or Paranormal Activity”. At this point I’d owned the “Interceptor” for a few months now, and it had never really intercepted anything other than some junk emails. But for some reason, this particular night when I came in from the porch I decided to check the thing. I’d just gotten something. It was a picture message, and here was the picture.

Underneath the picture was a message and it was at this point I became very thankful that I had bought the decoder portion of the “Interceptor”, because without it, I would have been pretty helpless. Here’s what the message (decoded) said. “First landing successful. Back in the atmosphere now. One more night and we will have perfectly triangulated your location. Then we can take your subjects up with us.”

It was strange. I looked at the picture again, and then I saw it. The shadow on the car. It was, or was certainly similar to… A flying saucer. Look again if you don’t believe me, and see if you can deny it. The picture seemed to have been taken in front of the shadow of a flying saucer. How could this be? Then I remembered the message. “subjects… landing… take up…” When I intercepted this message the calibrations of the I.A.D.O.E.C.D.O.P.A. had been set to only intercept emails within a 50 foot radius meaning… exactly. There was only one thing to do now as I was pretty certain as to what was in that backpack. I had to save my neighbors from whatever it was up there. So that night, I broke in to my neighbors house, found the backpack and snuck out of the house the same way I had gotten in. Then I got in my truck with the backpack and drove to the lake. After tying a 50 pound weight around the backpack, I took it and threw it off the dam into the bottom of the lake. What was in it? I don’t know, and I don’t care. All I know is that my neighbors are safe.


The Missing Keys

“Ok, just tell me what happened from the beginning. Word for word, don’t leave anything out.”

“Ok Collin. You’ve gotta see if you can help me figure this out.”

“Dude, i’m on it. Just talk.”

“Ok… Here’s what happened. Just promise you’ll believe me.”

“Dude, I promise.”

“Ok. Here goes.”

(Imagine loud ‘Whoosh’ noise)

Two quick clicks and I was there… My Facebook messages… Gabriel McMahan… still nothing. Unbelievable. He hadn’t responded to any of my messages since leaving to go work on a coffee farm in Hawaii. I thought we were friends. The least he could do was message me back to let me know we weren’t anymore. Send him one more message… Just in case.All right. Time to get lunch. I stood up and felt my pockets. As I’m sure you already guessed from the title, my keys weren’t in them… and as I scoured my apartment for the next three hours with a few suggestions of places to look from Mark, the magnitude of my conundrum grew in my mind like a great dane puppy.

Then all of a sudden, something like a christmas miracle happened, and I felt my keys in my pocket. I was puzzled for a few fleeting seconds until I remembered that Mark had brushed into me just as he was leaving to get pizza a few moments ago. Of course. He must have slipped them into my pocket then. For the next fifteen minutes I sat and thought of about 72 ways I could get him back for this, and decided to give myself a rain check when I heard him coming up the stairs.

 He was inside. “So how was the pizza?” “I didn’t get any pizza?” “Of course you didn’t…” He was obviously playing dumb… I tried to think of a clever way to get it out of him. “I watched a documentary on Netflix while you were gone.” He was at his computer now. He gave me a dumb look.


That was the dumb look.

“Ya, what was the documentary about?” “Pick-pockets.” “Interesting. What’s it called? Maybe I’ll watch it later.” “It’s called… Pick-Pockets.” He looked at me with that same dumb look again. “You’d think they could have come up with a better name than that.” “Ya well, they really wanted to emphasize the ‘pick’ part, because it was all about whose pocket the pick-pockets picked to pick-pocket.” “Ahh, I see. Who do they usually pick?” “Roommates.”

He gave me the same look. Again. I slammed the keys on his desk. Same dumb look. “Why did you just slam your keys on my desk?” “Why’d you steal my keys and make me look for them for two hours, and then sneak them back into my pocket before you left to get pizza just now?” “I thought you just got done watching a documentary?” “Dude, of course I didn’t watch a documentary! You were only gone for fifteen minutes!” “What are you talking about? I’ve been gone for three hours! I’ve been at a meeting with Mike since 11:20.” “Shut up dude.” “Dude, what are you talking about? I’m serious!” “Bro, you’ve been here for the last three hours. You helped me look for my keys, then you left about fifteen minutes ago to get pizza.” “Bro, look at my receipt from Starbucks if you don’t believe me. It says 11:25 AM on it and its from today.

I looked at it. He was telling the truth. Then I remembered the screen shot of my Facebook messages that I had taken at 11:24 AM today. Of course the screen shot said it was actually 11:24 PM, but that’s because I had never figured out how to change it after daylight savings time. I walked out of the room. “We’ll talk about this later.”

“So that’s what happened,” I told Collin. “Of course, I guess somebody could have given him the receipt, when he went out for pizza… But who would do that? I just don’t understand why he would go through all that trouble just to try and trick me with my keys.” I looked up at Collin for the first time since I started telling him my story. His face was white. “Dude, are you ok?” I asked.

“Promise me right now you’re not lying.”

“Dude, I’m not. I promise I’m telling the truth.”

“I saw Mark this morning. He was at Starbucks in a meeting for three hours. With Mike.”



The Mystery of the Dishes… Part 2

I had solved the mystery of the missing Ice Cream with relative ease, but the Mystery of the Dishes was proving harder to crack. I’d been on stakeout in that cabinet every night for at least a week now and still hadn’t caught the dirty dish culprit. One night as my leg began to fall asleep cramped up in that tiny cabinet I decided I had had enough. There was no way that someone other than my roommates could be making that big of a mess in our sink all the time. It had to be (as much as I hate to say it) one of us. I was shocked. Petrified. Almost mortified. Almost. However I had no other choice but to believe that the Dirty Dish Bandit was in fact one of my six roommates. With this new and disgusting revelation in mind I decided to conduct a thorough investigation of each and every one of my roommates by gathering aliases, criminal records, photo’s, and anything else that might be pertinent evidence in my investigation of who the real Dirty Dish Bandit was. Here’s what I found. 

First there was Austin. Just your average Penny Peddling Hipster Punk who worked at Common Grounds. After all… where else would he work? (rhetorical) After his childhood dream to be a professional doughnut taster was dashed when he developed an allergy to flour, he was forced to turn his passions from doughnuts to fashion and espresso.



The next suspect was none other than Mark. Known across the country for his

elaborate and intricate graffiti and graphic design art, I found more aliases for him than I knew what to do with. Those closest to him call him “El Pastelería Comedor” (still working on the translation for this) and his enemies simply refer to him as ‘The Mustache”. This is of course  not only because of his creative vision behind beginning America’s next mustache trend but also because he used to always grow a mustache before vandalizing famous landmarks across the country with his signature one of a kind mustache graffiti. Of course he was never caught because of the witnesses and the police’s utter inability to identify him after his mustache is shaved. He’s been through hundreds of lineups and has never been identified as “The Mustache” or as “El Pastelería Comedor”.

And maybe, just maybe, it was Mike Riess. Or as I like to call him, the Swiss Cheese swallowing swing dancer. I had recently learned when falling out of the cabinet and snapping the incriminating photo of him that Feta was not his only fetish, and he was a sucker for all types of dairy.
But tell me. Does one misguided crime make a man guilty of all?

My next suspect was Thomas. Yes. Thomas. Even Thomas was not above my investigations. What I found about Thomas was hard to ignore. Even though I had always trusted this fellow advocate of a clean kitchen, I began to have my sneaking suspicions that Thomas was not who he appeared to be. I began to believe that our popcorn popping, party planning, ring bearing, bread eating Bilbo, might actually be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Then there was Jonathan. The Dreamy Eyed Surfer turned Urban Cowboy after moving to Texas. The only thing stopping me from believing that Jon was The Dirty Dish Bandit was the hat he’s wearing in this picture. Take a good long look at that picture and the hat that Jon is wearing in it, and tell me honestly that you think he is the Dirty Dish Bandit. There’s only one problem. You can’t. Its just not possible.

My final suspect was definitely not the least suspected.

Most of my neighbors have never seen him, and the majority of my roommates didn’t set eyes on  him for the first three months he was living with us. That is because, he is the most interesting man who lives in 1621 Wood Ave Apt B. And his name, is Gabe. Gabe describes himself as “A Man of Many Hats” and can be found playing Disc Golf, Bowling, or simply shooting the breeze with friends. His online book business is set to bankrupt Amazon in weeks. Sure, he looks like an innocent, top-hatted Tabby Cat in this picture, but trust me when I tell you, he’s more than capable of leaving a mess in our sink.

After all my hard work I realized I was back to square one, and was no where close to solving the mystery of the dishes. Whether its one of my roommates, some strange annoying intruder, or me sleep walking, I guess I’ll never know. Perhaps this mystery just wasn’t meant to be solved. I’m gonna go wash the dishes.


The Mystery of the Dishes…

Most people would say that two plus two equals four, four plus three equals seven, and seven guys living together in one four bedroom apartment could easily equal a sink that consistently fills up with dirty dishes. Most people would say that. Most people would assume their roommates were forgetful, busy, or in some rare cases, allergic to steel. I however am not most people and by that I mean that I do not believe that two plus two always equals four, four plus three always equals seven, and that my roommates are either too busy, too forgetful, or in some rare cases allergic to the steel in the kitchen sink and therefore unable to clean up their dishes. No, I refuse to believe that. Oh, don’t think I’ve never believed it. Because I definitely have. I’ve believed many times that my roommates are in fact simply eating something off of a plate, putting the plate in the sink and leaving it there for someone else to clean up. However, it certainly does seem to happen quite frequently…

The corn in that pot has been sitting there for a week now, and thats actually the cleanest our sink has been in as long as I can remember. I’m just glad the corn hasn’t started smelling yet. As I said before I used to get mad about this type of stuff. I’ve literally asked every single person in our house to do their dishes and clean up after themselves, which is why I’m so confused as to how this could keep happening over and over. The more the dishes kept piling up, the more frustrated it seemed like everyone was getting. Then one day it hit me. What if this actually wasn’t my roommates fault? What if it wasn’t my fault? What if two plus two didn’t equal four this time? I knew that if I was going to have a chance of saving the reputations of my roommates I was going to have to do some serious investigating. I devised a plan to hide in one of the cupboards, wait for the sound of dirty dishes, jump out and snap a picture for video evidence of the first thing I saw. I knew that the culprit (or culprits) whoever they were, were probably extremely fast and sneaky. I would only have one shot at getting these guys faces on camera. The first time I stowed myself away in the cupboard it was only a few minutes after the stowing that I heard the sound of dishes clanging in the sink. “O.k. here’s my chance,” I thought. So, I took a deep breath, fell out and snapped this picture!

I landed on the counter and actually snapped the picture in midair. As you can see, this picture didn’t do much to support my theory that my roommates were not the ones leaving dirty dishes in the sink. But quite frankly, it did seem to pull together a few loose threads from the mystery of the refrigerator thief. After all, the camera doesn’t lie.

Mike had been caught red handed stealing someone else’s Holiday Edition Blue Bell Ice Cream, and will be reprimanded for it. Do I know how the dirty dishes get in our sink and never seem to get fully cleaned up? No. Do I know what happens to peoples Ice Cream that gets left in the freezer? I do now. Some of you reading this are thinking… “How could he?!” But don’t. You know you’d probably do the same thing if a half gallon of Christmas Cookie Ice Cream that didn’t belong to you was left in your freezer. Well, the mystery of the dishes remains unsolved for now. I guess I’m due for some more secret cabinet stakeouts….


It was hot outside, and I was sitting on my porch drinking a lovely glass of A&W Root Beer over ice in one of my many plastic cups from “Rudy’s”. It was the middle of the afternoon in the lull of the day and as car after car drove down the street one veered off and turned onto mine. It was one of those big black UPS truck’s. Of course I didn’t have to wait to see if it would stop in front of my house, or wait to watch the driver grab the package, then look up to my apartment, then look at the package again and start his brisk walk up my stairs. I knew exactly what was going to happen. Because it happened every day.
“Package for ____________” (insert name of anonymous roommate).
“Ya he lives here,” I said.
It happened every day. Sometimes more. And always to that one specific roommate. Thankfully he doesn’t live with me anymore, but that part of the story comes later. Anyways, it happened everyday. Doorbell would ring. Package delivered. Roommate collects. The first week I thought it was interesting, nothing more. The second week I thought it was peculiar. After a month I decided something was downright strange, and after two months I decided I needed to start looking into it.
It wasn’t just the amount of packages either. It was the fact that they were always the same size: a little longer than a shoebox, but thinner. You tell me what goes in a box that size. I’m sure you could think of a few things because I could. Try A bottle of wine? It was definitely my first guess. Only one problem. “Packages” never drank and never once in our house or his room in our time living together did I see a bottle of wine, or really any bottle the size of the boxes that were delivered to our house every day.
As you may have just noticed, since I can’t use his name for confidentiality, this nameless roommate of mine will be from here on out referred to as “Packages”. Why choose the name “Packages?” Because he got lots of packages and it’s sounds kind of like Patches which is a good cats name.
So what else could it be(besides wine, because it obviously wasn’t that)? It could be mechanical robot arms. Or just lots of different robot pieces all sent at different times, because he was trying to make a robot. It could be small swords, like the one in The Princess Bride that Buttercup almost stabs herself with (also called knives). There was also the possibility that he was ordering Footlong’s from Subway and had gotten UPS to deliver them. Maybe he was trying lose weight? But there was a Subway literally only 2 minutes from our house. Nothing made sense. Nothing.
Then one day an idea hit me. Bombs. Surely no. But… Maybe. Perhaps he was a bomb maker. After all, he did always send the packages back to wherever they came from. It was the best, most feasible idea I’d had, so I decided to do a little investigating. Somehow, bombs had to be brought into our conversation. But I had to do it in such a way, that it wouldn’t seem like I had done it, or thought about it before.
After some serious contemplation, I decided to use the movie Star Wars. You’ll see what I mean. Here’s our verbatim conversation(I recorded it):
“hey Packages.”
“hey Ben.”
“hey, you know I’ve been thinking, we should watch Star Wars soon.”
“omg yes, I love Star Wars!”
“ya crazy, me too! I always liked it because of those two droids that made every episode. What were their names again?”
“C3pio and R2D2?
“ya ya C3pio, only I always thought it would be funny if his name was C4pio, because that’s the…”
Something in his eyes when he said “Explosive” made me know I was onto something, and that I had to further investigate this. So I waited for my chance. My golden chance to actually open one of “Packages’s” packages and find out if he really was a bomb distribution center as my worst fears believed. Three weeks I waited for just the moment. One has to be careful about these things because “Packages” was nearly always home, and when he left, one never knew how long it would be for. And since I didn’t feel safe letting my other roommates know what I was up to, I had to sneak around them as well. It was just too sensitive. But one day the perfect opportunity presented itself. I was once again sitting on my porch drinking a nice glass of A&W Root Beer. I sure do love that stuff. Anyways, Packages and I were the only ones home.
The UPS truck had already delivered today and all of a sudden “Packages” came outside with the mysterious package in hand, ready to send it off to wherever and whomever. As he stepped outside he realized that the had forgotten something, so he set the package down by the door and went back inside. When he came back outside he was on his cell phone. I could tell he was talking to his mom because he was yelling at her. He always yelled at his mom, another factor that supported my bomb distribution theory. As he came out he turned and started walking to his car, still yelling at his mom, but completely forgetting the most important thing… The Package!!! Here was my golden chance! As “Packages” drove off (still yelling) I knew I had this package right where I wanted it, and was about to discover the secret behind what had been driving me crazy for weeks!
When his car finally disappeared I grabbed it with both hands, took it to my room and closed the door behind me. My adrenaline was flowing. I had to move fast, but I knew i would have to reseal the package and put it back after I opened it. Luckily I had borrowed some packaging tape from my neighbor and was fully prepared for the situation.
Sitting on my bed, I cut the tape with my knife, opened the box, and what did I find? Not a bomb. Not mechanical Robot Arms. Not even a half eaten Subway Sandwich. I laughed when I saw it… Out of relief, and confusion. Because the box contained two items: A two liter bottle of already opened A&W Root Beer, and a note. “well, this is strange, I didn’t know “Packages” even liked Root Beer,” I said to myself. Then I took the note and read these words. “Steve, Mind Control Formula seems to be working. The bomb bit worked perfectly. Thank you so much, and keep it coming.
P.S. C4pio, Brilliant! TTYL!!!!!!
P.P.S. Tell Mom I said Hi.”
Fear swept through me like a forest fire. I heard footsteps. “Packages” had come back! (Step, step, step) No time. The door opened and we looked each other in the eyes.

Thank you for reading this highly entertaining story, because of course that’s all it is. Don’t worry, I don’t and have never had any roommates like “Packages”! Hahaha!

How It’s Ben

So I’m sure that my subscribers out there are all asking the same question. “How has it Ben? Been? I mean Ben.” I can personally assure you that you aren’t alone, because I often find myself asking the same question. So as I sit in my four room apartment next to my balding blonde graphic designing roommate who can no longer “handle the iced nobles anymore” I find myself doing something I haven’t done in some time. While I should be doing things like preparing emotionally for the upcoming school year, buying a new inner tuber for my bicycle tire, and filling out insurance information for the emergency room, I find myself answering the door instead. It was the exterminator. But answering the door isn’t all I’m doing on an alliterative day like today. I’m also doing something thats gotten a lot of people in trouble: Reflecting. No I’m not looking in my bathroom mirror. Surprising right? Then what am I reflecting? At this moment I am reminded of something a wise man once said. “Barbecue is the purest form of a consumable future.” Think about these words and ponder them as many other barbecue inhalers have before you, and as I am now. And as I look back over this summers many happenstances… Ex: receiving seven rabies vaccinations, observing the beauty of the grand canyon at sunset, blowing out a tire on a 1990 civic wagon at 1:00 am 256 miles outside of Albuquerque in the middle or what turned into a 40 hour road trip, staying in a hotel in the Dominican Republic for two weeks with no AC, no hot water, and no problems, and becoming an unself-proclaimed “multimedia juggernaut”, I can really only do one thing, and that’s sigh. Yup that’s right. Sigh. And as I hold in my urge to pee as I write these last few sentences I’m reminded of another quote that will perhaps be more inspiring than my barbecue one.

“It takes a big man to cry… But it takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man.” -Dave Barnes

Look who’s laughing now Dave.

Thank you for reading.

Freewill vs. Predestination in The Fellowship of the Rings

I wrote this for my English class and thought the whole world might enjoy it.

Gandalf tells Frodo something that is very interesting when he is recounting the history of the Ring, and how it came to Frodo. He is talking about how the Ring left Gollum. He says “It was not Gollum, Frodo, but the Ring itself that decided things. The Ring left him”. Frodo at this point is confused as to why the Ring would abandon Gollum to be picked up by Bilbo and says, “Wouldn’t an Orc have suited it better?” Gandalf goes on to say that this was the strangest event in the Ring’s history: “Bilbo’s arrival just at that time, and putting his hand on it, blindly, in the dark”. Then he says, “Behind that there was something else at work, beyond any design of the Ring-maker. I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker. In which case you also were meant to have it. And that may be an encouraging thought.” (pg 65)

This passage brings up an interesting point, because it says that Frodo “was meant” to have the Ring, by something else that was working against the power of the Ring. Tolkien suggests that Frodo was predestined to have the Ring. This is not an encouraging thought for Frodo as he says in response to Gandalf, “It is not.” Here we see two powers developing in the story. One is the dark power of Sauron, creator of the Ring, and the other is the one by which Frodo obtained the Ring.

Sauron’s greatest desire is to rule, dominate and control the world. He wants complete and total power. This desire is shown when Gandalf says to Frodo concerning the hobbits, “He does not need you… but… hobbits as miserable slaves would please him far more than hobbits as happy and free.” If this is the desire of Sauron, the dark power, what is the desire of the other power in conflict with him? One might assume that it is the same, even by what was read earlier in the passage that talks about how Frodo was meant to have the Ring. Is the power that meant for Frodo to have the Ring just using him in order to beat Sauron? Did Frodo or Bilbo have a choice? Or were they forced into obtaining the Ring by predestination? These are the questions that Frodo is asking himself at this point, and this is why he says to Gandalf that it is not an encouraging thought that he was meant to have the Ring.

Frodo realizes that he has obtained a great evil in the Ring and that now he is in great danger. It is at this point that he says to Gandalf that he wished Bilbo had not kept the Ring. “I wish he had never found it, and that I had not got it! Why did you let me keep it? Why didn’t you make me throw it away, or, or destroy it?” (pg 69) From Frodo’s words at this point one can see that he believes he is being controlled by the force that is combating Sauron, and this is why he would rather Gandalf have made him do something to keep him from having the Ring. He then asks Gandalf, “why not destroy it?” In response Gandalf tells Frodo to “Try… Try now!” However when Frodo tries to put it into the fire he finds that for some reason he cannot. Gandalf then says to Frodo, “You see… you too… cannot easily let it go, nor will to damage it. And I could not ‘make’ you- except by force, which would break your mind.” (pg 70)

Gandalf demonstrates in this passage the difference between the two forces. He could by force make Frodo destroy the Ring or do whatever he wanted him to. However he will not make Frodo destroy the Ring for the same reason he lets him keep it. Gandalf is giving Frodo a choice, by letting Frodo decide what to do with the Ring and not making him destroy it, for this would be control, which is the desire of the Dark Lord Sauron.

Frodo is still confused, and realizes the perilous journey that awaits him. He says, “I wish I had never seen the Ring! Why did it come to me? Why was I chosen?” It is clear that here Frodo is frustrated for being “chosen” and wishes that he had not been chosen. Being chosen feels like being controlled, and it is easy here for Frodo to think that being chosen or being predestined, is the same as being controlled. Gandalf responds, “Such questions cannot be answered… But you have been chosen, and must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have.” Finally Gandalf says, “And now… the decision lies with you.” (pg 71)

These last words of Gandalf are of utmost importance for understanding the difference between Sauron and the force that “meant” for Frodo to have the Ring. Even though Frodo was predestined or meant to have the Ring, and was meant to travel down to Mordor, to Mount Orodruin, keep Sauron from dominating and destroying the world, and eventually help to destroy the Ring and evil, he has a decision to make right now. “The decision lies with you,” Gandalf says. Right now Frodo has a choice that could either save or destroy all of Middle Earth.

In my opinion, this choice is beautiful. Even though Frodo has been given a destiny by a power that is far greater than him, he is not controlled by it, and is still allowed a choice to make. This is the difference between the force of good by which the Ring came to Frodo, and the force of evil that is trying to control, dominate and rule the world.

This is also the choice that we have been given by God. Even though He does have a destiny, purpose and calling for our lives, he also gives us the daily choice to choose life or death. This is the paradox that is being discussed by Frodo and Gandalf, and it is the paradox of Freewill vs. Predestination. Many people have so much trouble comprehending this paradox and will try to prove that either Predestination is true, or that Freewill is true, and believe that if one of the two is true then the other is not. However, Tolkien suggests that both are true. God has predestined us and called us to do great things, just like Frodo was meant to have the Ring and God also is standing by us saying “the decision lies with you”.

We have the choice to walk into our destiny or to leave it for apparent safety and comfort. The best part is that even though God gives us the choice to fulfill the destiny He has for us He says to us as Gandalf says to Frodo, “the decision lies with you. But I will always help you… I will help you bear this burden, as long as it is yours to bear.”(pg 71) God promises to bear our burdens with us as Gandalf promises to help Frodo.

On page 61 Frodo asks Gandalf “Why, why wasn’t it destroyed?” This question is not actually answered until Frodo arrives at Rivendell much later when he is at the council of Elrond. Elrond says, “Sauron himself was overthrown, and Isildur cut the Ring from his hand with the hilt-shard of his father’s sword, and took it as his own.” Then he says, “Isildur took it”… but “it should have been cast then into Orodruin’s fire nigh at hand where it was made.”(pg 256) He goes on to say that he advised Isildur at the time to destroy the Ring at that moment, but that Isildur would not listen to him. It is easy to think about how much evil could have been avoided in that one moment, if Elrond had forced Isildur to destroy the Ring, or if he would have killed him and thrown the Ring into the fire himself.

Perhaps Elrond would have been justified if he would have killed Isildur or forced him to destroy the Ring, but I believe that the reason he lets Isildur live is the same reason that God lets humanity live when we disobey him. God gives us a choice. He could have killed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden when they sinned against him and brought evil into the world. However he did not, but instead let them live with the choice they had made, just as Elrond let Isildur live with the choice he had made.