Writer J. R. R. Tolkien published The Hobbit and The Lord of Rings over six decades ago. Now, they’ve been turned into films, new books, and a ton of merchandise. However, the originals have many applicable lessons to us, even today…
J. R. R. Tolkien’s Tough Life
Outside of die-hard fans, most don’t know that author J. R. R. Tolkien went through some serious hard times before we wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. He served the British Army during World War I, where he saw untold horrors. “In those days chaps joined up, or were scorned publicly,” he wrote in a letter to his son Christopher. “It was a nasty cleft to be in for a young man with too much imagination and little physical courage.”
After surviving the trench warfare of World War I, where he saw many of his friends perish, Tolkien thought that he would never see war again. However, that turned out not to be sure. He served again in World War II, as a codebreaker.
“One has indeed personally to come under the shadow of war to feel fully its oppression,” he wrote in the forward of Lord of the Rings. “But as the years go by it seems now often forgotten that to be caught in youth by 1914 was no less hideous an experience than to be involved in 1939 and the following years.”
After two of the most horrifying wars of all time, Tolkien was finally able to return to England and begin writing the books that would make him a famous name the world over. And in those books, he imparted even more wisdom…
Life Lessons To Remember
Today, some of the most famous quotes in the world come from The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Among the most famous is “not all those who wander are lost,” which the author wrote about the ranger Aragorn. However, that line now means much more to many: the journey is the real accomplishment, not the destination. It’s a line to remember when you don’t reach the goal you desired. It’s not failure – just another journey.
Along those same lines is Gandalf’s famous line, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” Frodo, who grew up during a war (just like Tolkien), had to destroy the ring and fight Sauron himself. While he can’t change who he is, just like the rest of us, he could choose his future. The same is true for us: the future is in your hands.
Finally, without a doubt, Samwise Gamgee has the most heartwarming line in the series: “There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.” Who can disagree? It’s certainly something to remember in times when you feel like giving up, and life seems impossible.
Through a world of fantasy, Tolkien has imparted some of the most important lessons of life. So, it might be time to take out your favorite Tolkien novel and give it another read!