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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Yes it’s time for another piece with J.R.R. Tolkien. Even if you haven’t read the books you likely know who this author is. His impact on culture has been immense to say the least. His books sent me down a path of imagination that nearly 40 years later I am still on. To the wisdom…
“It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.” ― J.R.R Tolkien
I suppose we need to determine what is a simple life? Today many people aspire to have more… In the sense that your motivations are often suspect internally. As an example I want 500 subscribers to my blog. Why? money? reach? affirmation? competition? For me its just a number I want to attain, I believe that its a worthy goal but have no real difinitive reason why other than Id like more people to read what I have to say.
A simple life to you might be something completely different from what I think it is. The point here I think is to reflect on what we have and appreciate it more rather than be constantly driven to obtain more, whatever the venue. Tolkien in context is using the hobbits as an example of his “simple life”.
They enjoy family, home, a good harvest, a warm meal, a soft bed. While the rest of the world is engaged in conquest, power, politics, war, turmoil. Bring this back to your life, what are the simple things you enjoy? Have you celebrated them lately? Meaning really appreciate where they come from, how you obtained it?
Me, I am really thankful for my pillow. I know that sounds silly doesnt it? Its a simple thing, that makes my life better, I am going to celebrate it by washing it today. Yes, sometimes a simple celebration of something that makes your life better is a good avenue for your energy rather than a focus on something you want to obtain.
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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.
“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.
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….