Some say that there are two kinds of people in this world: those who love J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and those who will soon come to love J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I fit in to the first category. I read The Fellowship of the Ring when I was 15 and continue to read it decades later. I understand that Christopher Lee, who played Saruman in Peter Jackson’s film version, reads all of Tolkien’s books once a year. He was also lucky enough to meet J.R.R. Tolkien in person.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
This is my favourite J.R.R. Tolkien quote because of its simple complexity. Many times we wish that things were different – that we didn’t need to face a difficulty or a crisis. There are many things that we have little control over the outcomes. Gandalf’s words are universal: “so do all who live to see such times.” And then the profound insight: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
This is not an easy task, especially in our fast-paced, ever-changing world. It is a solitary choice that is based on the transient gift of time and the power to make decisions based on circumstances and personal values. How do we face danger or loss? How do we accept joy or embrace grief? Above all, how to we live abundant lives?
There is the paradox, as my good friend M___ reminded me. We are creatures of the moment; we live in the time of the present. Yet our decisions are future orientated and based on assumptions, not certainties. It really is blending the finite with the infinite.
One thing is clear: we must decide.
The forests of the Scottish Highlands reminded me of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth