I have been a JRR Tolkien and Lord of the Rings/Hobbit fan since grade school when one ambitious teacher read us The Hobbit during reading time (in whatever grade someone has reading time).
I was fascinated by the battles and the drama and the cast of characters. My imagination went wild with the possibilities and I would guess The Hobbit was one of the first “adult” books I picked up and read on my own when I was old enough.
Looking back … I guess I have always found joy in the metaphorical aspect of all the Tolkien books (and loved drawing the correlations).
But it was The Hobbitt that originally tweaked that understanding and began my love of words and framing of words.
It was this book that opened the door in my mind where I understood books were not just words but thoughts.
And I could probably blame Tolkien for my sense of imagination and some of the ways I view things.
What I really value is that he made me realize good authors/writers didn’t just write things down in some willy nilly fashion.
That authors wrote with a thought. And that it was a mistake to take the words at face value but rather it was worth taking some time to understand the meaning behind the words … the messages and the lessons to be learned.
In the beginning, my impressionable youth, it probably took me a number of years to begin breaking down the metaphors into distinct conceptual quotes and truly understanding the genius of Tolkein.
Enough on all that.
As with any well written fantasy book the Lord of the Rings is strewn with a number of great quotes and soundbite thoughts.
Really thoughtful thoughts.
Not “elvin” thoughts or thoughts using some wacky made up language or simly unrealistic fantasy-like thoughts … but life thoughts.
Here are some of my favorites:
“Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”
This thought is huge.
And not all people may buy it. Mostly because it is always difficult to believe that good people shouldn’t have the opportunity to fulfill their potential “good” destiny. And it becomes even more difficult when you observe obviously ‘not good’ living a long life dispensing ‘not good things’ as freely as loose cards from a dozen decks of cards.
But. It is too simplistic to suggest the bad deserve to die and the good deserve to live. Because, frankly, life isn’t all good nor is it all bad.
I guess the bigger thought here is that we judge people ‘as is’ (or as they are)and estimate ‘what will be (or what could be) and .. well … judge.
But you can’t.
Even the best of hearts can be cracked by life.
Even the worst of souls can find redemption.
Gandalf reminds us we shouldn’t be too eager to use death in judgment for bad .. or good. Why? Because, whether we like it or not … “not good” people serve a role in life.
One big role is that it is in the conflict between good people and bad people therein lies the growth of “what should be.”
Think about it.
In those who live, that deserve death, we see vivid demonstrations to remind us of “what shouldn’t be.” And in those who die, who seemingly deserved life because of goodness, it is a harsh reminder that those of us remaining have a responsibility to uphold that “which should be.”
I do know I read this quote several times before I fully grasped it.
And, in fact, I may still be searching for the real truth within.
Regardless. No matter how wise I may become … I cannot see all ends.
And I certainly cannot judge who deserves death and who doesn’t (no matter how much I would like to).
And I think it is either silly, or selfish, to dwell on ‘what could have been’ even with who may be seemingly the best of the best.
In the end?
Try not to judge people. And judge your own life by what you are doing … because you cannot see the end. The end arrives … well … when it wants to arrive not when we choose.
“It is not your own Shire. Others dwelt here before hobbits were, and others will dwell here again when hobbits are no more. The wide world is not all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out.”
The big thought: “The world is not all about you.”
If the Shire were America, and Gildor shared this thought, could you see the ole blogosphere lighting up like a roman candle?
Ignorance is a fence.
And isolationism is living within that fence.
That is fencing yourself from the unknown.
I won’t suggest it’s out of fear or any number of actually good reasons … but isolating yourself (personally or as a country) is never good.
I think the bigger thought here is that we need to always remind ourselves that we today represent a past .. and that we are probably a blip in history (or what will be).
I guess the reason why this quote resonates with me today is that Americans are REALLY focused on what is seemingly “our problems”.
And I guess they should be (I do know I care …. but …) but this quote is a reminder that all in which we live in should have some perspective. What happens in our community is important .. but it is simply one cog in the bigger global wheel.
Yeah. What you & your community is facing is important. And needs to be dealt with.
But burying your head in your own community means losing sight of the forest. And the issues that reside in the forest. And, frankly, the things the forest can bring to bear against your own little tree in the woods.
The cycle of time brings an end to everything … only to bring a beginning to another. You may as well step beyond your own shire at some point. And that’s not about being adventurous … that is simply about living life.
But what about adventures …
“Don’t adventures ever have an end? I suppose not. Someone else always has to carry on the story.”
Adventures are fun to write about.
Especially when you talk about beginning or end.
Because … well .. in my eyes .. true adventures never do end. I could have included another thought … “in each end there is a beginning, and each beginning there is an end.”
Life is an adventure. Or a series of adventures. (that is if you elect to look at it this way)
Peoples’ lives end but life doesn’t. Someone is always there to carry on.
Think about it.
Someone is always an extension of the past.
No one is totally new.
Your own adventure is simply something you have found a passion for that exists and you are carrying it on … for someone else to pick up again one day and carry it on.
We are all just a chapter in a bigger story.
Never lose sight of that fact.