Lessons From Tolkien

My last year of college I was fortunate enough to have the time to focus on and fall in love with a book (technically 6). How I had made it 21 ½ years without reading or watching The Lord of the Rings series is honestly beyond me. I am thankful I read it when I did, though, because many of the themes from the story are helping me deal with the current state of my life. I know I’m not the first person to feel this way about this book, but I still feel compelled to share my thoughts.

As cliché as it may be, among my favorite lines (though there are others) from the book are from this iconic poem:

“All that is gold does not glitter,

Not all those who wander are lost;

The old that is strong does not wither,

Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,

A light from the shadows shall spring;

Renewed shall be blade that was broken,

The crownless again shall be king.”

– J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

 

Obviously, there is a literal interpretation of this poem in the context of the story Tolkien was telling. For me, the metaphorical interpretation is more important. Though some of the details of why this resonates with me cannot yet be disclosed, I do want to take a moment and be honest about some of the reasons why these lines constantly come to the forefront of my thoughts.

From the time I started my last semester of college, I was bombarded with not only people I knew but strangers asking me what I was doing after I graduated. It got more than a little bit overwhelming, seeing as my focus was trying to finish my thesis and attempting to make the Honors cutoff without having a full on breakdown (both of which I can now say I did successfully sans breakdown). Then came explaining that I was going to be moving home after graduation. Though I knew the entire time that going home was 100% where I needed to be (I did not yet know why, I just had a feeling), I really did not like the fact that I had to say it. I knew I was gold, but let me be clear, I also knew that it was the most matte gold you could imagine (I don’t mean this in a self-deprecating way, I mean it in the ways that seem to be of importance in this world – Instagram followers, number of people fawning over me on social media, staying current with pop culture and trends, etc.).

Next comes people asking me what I want in a career. Though I have ideas, I have never been one of those people who has known exactly what I wanted to be or do. I do feel like I am taking the first part of the post-graduation chapter of my life to effectively wander; seeing and doing and trying and pursuing as many different things as I can without burning myself out. This is exactly what I should be doing, though, because then I will never have to wonder later in life if I sold myself short or made any major decisions without as much information as I need to feel comfortable (but are any of us ever really completely comfortable?). I may look a little lost at times, but I can assure you, I’ve never been more sure about the path I am taking.

“The old that is strong does not wither” feels more like a prophetic statement for me. Everything that has happened up to this point and will happen in the coming years is preparing me for everything else that the future holds. I already recognize that certain people and situations have been placed in my life to teach me things. Because of the lessons that these people and situations have provided me with, and the losses I have suffered as a result of failing to handle situations appropriately, I have regained a lot of my long-lost perspective on life. Through the ups and downs I have lost and recovered my convictions. Moreover, I have also seen the strength of relationships that have gone through challenges, be it between the people in question or that which comes from one supporting the other through their struggle.

I can confidently say that the situations I am currently facing are not only testing the depth of my roots, but are showing me just how deep they are. I also know that wonderful things will come out of everything that is happening now. I by no means believe that I am in a “bad” place, just more of a time of transition, though times of transition can be equally frustrating.

Moreover, as much as some things seem irreparable, those that are supposed to be repaired will be, and I believe there is something overwhelmingly beautiful about that.

As much as these lines speak to me, the overarching message of the story also comes to mind frequently. Not unlike the hobbits, I would much rather be in the Shire having second breakfast and the like on a daily basis with people I care about. However, necessary personal growth happens when we abandon the routine and comfortable, and it allows us to realize more about ourselves than we might have ever imagined. Sometimes this means walking away from situations or people we truly care about because we know that, even if just for the time being, they are not meant for the next part of our story. Other times it means confronting our truth with regard to the life we are supposed to lead, not the one we have imagined for ourself. In my life, I have been reminded time and time again that happiness comes from acceptance that derailment of plans for what we think should happen are blessings in disguise because there is likely a more important path to our destination than the “perfect” scenario we have in our minds. I have also found that a lot of the time what happens on the path defines us more than the destination it leads us to.

Being pushed beyond our routine or comfort zone can also mean that we are forced to experience emotional situations we never thought would come to pass. For me, this manifests in the form of confronting things I have been running away from for 8 ½  years. Though these circumstances seem out of the blue, I am grateful for the timing and I am glad that I am finally going to be able to move forward from what has been weighing on me in the most unhealthy of ways since I was 13. This weekend is going to be devastating and restorative, and I am both dreading it and feel that it is exactly 8 ½ years overdue.

 

When I am able to disclose more information about the situation I am referring to, I will publish a post about it (already about 75% done).

3 thoughts on “Lessons From Tolkien

  1. I’m glad you’ve discover the joy of LOTR! I re-read the series last summer and it gave me so much hope. The metaphors are beautiful (and I’m totally planning on getting a tattoo about one of them soon). I highly recommend the extended editions of the movies as well. And more importantly, thank you for sharing a little of your soul in this post. It can be scary to admit vulnerabilities, but that’s the only way we can grow, connect, and seek help. I hope everything is going well and I’m looking forward to your next post!

    Like

    1. This was definitely a hard post to release, and I know there will be a few more that will be harder, but there was something truly therapeutic about putting it out there. Thank you so much for sharing! The whole thing really is beautiful, and I had no idea what I was missing out on until I got through the whole thing. I will definitely have to track down the extended editions of the movies! I’ve loved reading about your journey because of how beautifully you write about it, and I hope all is going well for you as you re-start at CSU!

      Liked by 1 person

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