The Lord of the Rings has always been my all-time favorite fantasy read. I’m super-excited about the upcoming Hobbit movie, so I thought I would make another fun list about what I learned from the novel. Here goes…
Everyone has a mooching relative.
You know the one I mean. I’m talking about the family member who makes you cringe when you see their friend request on Facebook. You know you’ll be opening a can of worms by accepting, but that nagging sense of guilt and familial obligation just won’t go away… It seems like no matter who you talk to, everyone has a Sackville-Baggins somewhere in their life, which is strangely comforting in its own way.
Wizards are flakes.
I know, I know, wizards have the whole Wise Old Man archetype going on, but seriously. They’re completely unreliable! They get you into trouble, and then when you need them, they always seem to have something ‘more important’ to do. They’re like a friend who convinces you to move, but when moving day comes along, they suddenly have other plans that have nothing to do with helping you lift heavy boxes.
Gandalf: OK guys, you need to go through this really dangerous forest. Try not to get yourselves killed while you’re in there.
Bilbo: Hey, I thought you were coming with us!
Galdalf: [Looks chagrined] Yes, well, Saruman is having this get-together at Isengard, and I sort of promised I would be there…
Bilbo: But we need you! You’re the one who led us here.
Gandalf: I’m sure you’ll be fine. Just stay on the path. I really need to get going now—wizard business and all that. You wouldn’t understand.
Gandalf: Good luck! If I have time, I’ll catch up with you later. [Gandalf rides off.]
Nice one, Gandalf.
We’re braver than we think we are.
I don’t want to give anything away, but Bilbo’s actions throughout the book show that even a gentle hobbit is made of sterner stuff than anyone suspects—including himself. (All right, Gandalf does seem to suspect Bilbo’s abilities, and his disappearances do give Bilbo the chance to discover them for himself, but wizards are still flakes! )
I know I’ve underestimated what I’m capable of on several occasions. And when you overcome that fear, and do the thing you thought you would never be able to do, it feels awesome. We need to remember not to sell ourselves short.
Being in charge isn’t as glamorous as it seems.
A lot of times you don’t plan to be the leader; it just sort of happens. Maybe you end up saving the day by being the one person who knows how to get the office printer working again. At first, you’re the hero. But people quickly forget what you’ve already done, and start expecting more.
The next thing you know, you’re the go-to person for everything computer related, and when things go wrong, you’re the one who gets blamed. (If that seems like a pain, imagine being made the leader of a bunch of high-maintenance dwarves, who expect you to get their treasure back from a vicious dragon.) Being the boss always seems like a good idea in theory, but it can come with a lot of baggage.
If you want to live an extraordinary life, you need to let adventure find you.
Bilbo could have easily decided to stay home and forget all about the dwarves and their quest. He already had a comfortable life. Traveling to the Lonely Mountain to retrieve the stolen treasure had no personal draw for him, and actually went against his practical hobbit sensibilities.
If Bilbo had decided to stay home, not only would it make for a boring story, but he would have missed out on all kinds of exciting and life-changing experiences. If you’ve read The Lord of the Rings, you also know his adventures have far-reaching consequences.
It’s easy to convince ourselves that sticking to the status quo means avoiding a difficult decision, but every time we do it, we’re choosing to close a door on a world of possibility.
Have you read The Hobbit? What did you think? (Are you as excited to see the movie as I am? )
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