|J.R.R. Tolkien wrote many books, including the Middle-earth stories. He is particularly known for The Lord of the Rings and like many stories of an epic journey, LOTR lets us take away lessons we can apply to our life.
No matter how surreal his epic stories are, the pieces of wisdom reflected in them mirror that of the wisdom we must gain to champion our life here on earth.
Here are seven (7) of them:
“Not all those who wander are lost.”
This widely quoted line is part of the poem that starts with "All that is gold does not glitter" in the Fellowship of the Ring. To wander is to travel aimlessly or without purpose and expectation. There are people who see this as a useless and senseless way to occupy one's time, but some people embark on a journey without a purpose to discover things. Without bias or prejudice, they hope to learn new things and even astound themselves with a new discovery.
This does not only apply to journeys or travels, but also to circumstances in life that allows one to reflect on wisdom gained by having open eyes.
“Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”
I believe man is just passing through this life, an inevitable event that makes us all equal and unimportant. So with respect to great people the likes of kings and wizards, anyone as small and simple as a hobbit, can be significant in changing the course of the future. The only difference each person has is the amount of courage in facing challenges in life.
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
This is from a conversation between Gandalf and Frodo, who regretted having to live at a crucial time in Middle-earth's history. When time becomes a matter of importance, it means you face a circumstance to overcome. You need to make a decision that upholds your principles and puts meaning to your struggle rather than live in fear trying to ignore it.
You can also interpret this line as having courage when faced with danger, but I'd like to emphasize the importance of making a decision that positively impacts the lives of many – a characteristic we rarely see nowadays.
In the books, Gandalf displayed infinite wisdom; he was even aware of the lure of power and avoided it by entrusting it to a creature who is unlikely to use it. This was the first step he made when he decided to stand against evil and brought around him people who could make a difference.
Making a stand is not easy. It is even more difficult to make a decision and stick to it until the end. This is when you need courage and friends who share your principles.
“Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”
To have a strong heart is to be unyielding in times of trouble. When you believe in one thing, you understand its every facet and your actions and thoughts embody this principle. You try to influence others to see your cause and adopt it, especially if you know it's also good for them. Even if your principle is met with indifference, you do not abandon it because you have a steadfast belief in it. Another way to put it is if something is important to you, it will stay with you forever.
“A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a short cut to meet it.”
When the council entrusted the task to Frodo, he humbly took it, “though I do not know the way.” In his journey, he faced harrowing challenges, but he never turned back. Can you imagine if he quit or worse, succumbed to its evil powers? There would be two gollums fighting for my precious on book 3.
Frodo's adventures and nightmares could well be yours – when faced with a responsibility you must carry till the end, when you need to make a choice from the good and the bad, or when you need a friend to help you make the right decision. It's only when you decide to face them that you start making a difference. Your reward? It will take something bigger than Sauron or Mordor to scare you again.
"Death is just another path, one that we all must take."
If you acknowledge death as part of life like an adventure the fellowship of the ring had to go through rather than the “end of life,” you create for yourself an advantage to live it fully and meaningfully. You value every second, make sense of it, and try to share it with other people.
“One who cannot cast away a treasure at need is in fetters. You did rightly.”
The moment you let go of your “treasure” for something important is a crucial moment. It means, similar to facing your fears, you become free from many things in this world. If you were the ring bearer, would you let go of the ring? Not sure? Start with your definition of “success.” If immediately, images of car, designer clothes, power over other people pop into your head at the mention of the word, then you clearly need to rethink the kind of life you want to live.
What is your favorite LOTR wisdom?
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