“I was talking aloud to myself. A habit of the old: they choose the wisest person present to speak to”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

This quote is meant as humor but if we look at it objectively we can pull a few good pieces of advice out of it. Let’s do this Tolkien break down a little differently.

  • “I was talking aloud to myself” – Many people find this to be a negative trait, a sign of a mental health issue. It may be, but Tolkien does a good job of disarming this notion with the ending.
  • “A habit of the old” – This again can have a negative connotation associated as old sometimes translates into loosing mental cognitive abilities. You’re old, you’re talking to yourself.
  • “They choose the wisest person present to speak to” – This is how this quote becomes a gem. He associates wisdom with the person, whom is old, and whom is speaking. He then clearly points out to the reader that the old person talking to himself (or herself) is the wisest person present because they are choosing to talk to themselves.
There once lived a hobbit in a hole

I know it’s somewhat circular but what we can glean from this is, you should trust yourself. Your wisdom is exclusive to you. Meaning you are a sum of your experiences and no one else can claim your unique memories and circumstances.

Age is a number and a child of 10 who has played ping pong since 3 has wisdom a 40 year old new ping pong player will not have. Don’t allow outside influences to impact your evaluation of your wisdom, regardless of your age. You have experiences and wisdom all your own. Trust it, learn from it and if you have any questions ask yourself, out loud….

Looking for more wisdom of Tolkien? Check out my post here.


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