Yes, it’s that time again! If you frequent this blog you know I drop quotes from Tolkien often. He is IMHO the master of fantasy prose with deep roots into mythology and the psychology of the human spirit. As a veteran of WWI to say his perspective on life was unique would be an understatement. We look at our world today and commiserate about how hard things are, divisive, negative. Imagine a moment living when Tolkien did….
Your late teens early 20’s you fight in a horrific world war; you then have a pandemic (the Spanish flu). Things are quiet for a while, the 20’s then you get to experience the Great depression, oh and to cap it off ANOTHER world war, twice as deadly as the first. Our lives are a cake walk in comparison in my view… So the wisdom?
“Maybe the paths that you each shall tread are already laid before your feet, though you do not see them. Good” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
Tolkien is telling you here that wherever you are, whatever path you are on its been preselected for you. This is his subtle tip of the hat to fate and how as humans many of us fight it (“though you do not see them.) in vein. Our religious friends call this a “Divine Plan” pagans like me, its fate. Tolkien survived perhaps the most calamitous period of human history (as illustrated above). When you go through events like that, I suppose at some point you have to give yourself over to fate. Horrors like that, no one would actively seek.
You are doing awesome dear reader, one day at a time.
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From time to time on this blog we visit a quote from one of my favorite authors Tolkien. For many of us he is the god father of modern fantasy writing (along with Jules Verne). Tolkien gave us a lot of pearls of wisdom from his works, let’s discuss the one below.
“For even the very wise cannot see all ends.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien,
What does he mean here? Simply put, those of you who have obtained wisdom or have mentors in your life cannot always rely exclusively on their view. Even those of us with a vast amount of experience cannot possibly foresee all possible outcomes. Tolkien is giving us a very important reminder here that you cannot rely exclusively on the wisdom of others.
Sometimes in life things happen that we don’t anticipate no matter how well we prepared for it. Those are often the most unforgiving and brutal of circumstances and they punish your spirit and soul. The key here is acceptance. Acceptance of the notion that life/fate is out of your hands. Things happen and it’s not always how well you are prepared for what might occur but rather how well you recover from the things you didn’t see coming.
One of the hardest things we have to deal with as humans and as humans with anxiety is picking ourselves up after a major calamity. Tolkien gives us a warning here, he is telling us that even the very wise cannot see all ends. Remember, live isn’t about how many hits you can take, it’s about how you get up and carry on after being knocked down.
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“Wise men speak only of what they know” ― J.R.R. Tolkien
We’ve all heard some iteration of this in some form in our travels. My father used to say to me many years ago “When you are up to your nose in poop, done open your mouth”. Of course he was more colorful in his prose. He was a Korean War vet and didn’t have much use for B.S. I guess he had seen enough over there to understand the value of his time.
I digress though….
So have you been in a conversation with someone or a group of people and there is that one person who refers to “they” or uses the term “they say”? These are the types of people Tolkien is talking about here. As an example, if we were to talk about personal finance I could hold my own with just about anyone that’s my area of expertise.
If for example we were talking about Astrology I wouldn’t know the first thing other than some cursory info on the solar system, or a guess at how many stars are out there… you get the drift.
Be mindful in your life who is speaking to what subject. It is true the older you get the more experiences you have and you can speak wisely on many topics. Another example… I can tell you and speak to how to jump start a car. Not because I am an auto mechanic but because I’ve had to do it several times in my life.
Not every wise person comes in the guise of the highly educated. A master’s degree is not required in all subjects to have wisdom in said subject. That said be wary of those who boast, who preface remarks, who use citations that don’t make sense, who refer to things that, in your heart you know just don’t make sense.
Tolkien is telling you wise men (and women) speak only what they know. Who are you getting your information from? Is this person a walking encyclopedia? Chances are they are wise in nothing at all, other than how to create the illusion of wisdom.