Gandalf

The Wisdom of Tolkien .. Again..

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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Dressing to feel good !

More advice from a 50-year-old (me) bye bye 2020.

This is more of a pep talk post. 30 years ago, I was unemployed, out of work, living on a friend’s couch, smoking drinking, partying with absolutely no direction at all. My family was broken, my siblings spread out all over the country, my father deceased, my mother a raging alcoholic. I had no hope, I had no support, I was hanging on by a thread.

Things got progressively worse for me, the 1980’s turned to the 1990’s and it looked like I was going to be homeless and broke. I caught a break, I hooked up with a girl friend who had her shit together. She got me a job at the company she was working at. The boss there told me, and I will never forget this. “You have an opportunity here to change your life, if you mess it up, it’s all your fault”. It wasn’t prophetic, it wasn’t an epic line from Shakespeare etc. It was though a chance, and I took it.

2020 the world was on fire, 2021 is near will the flames subside?

I stayed with the GF for a year, I banked as much money as I could. We didn’t last, she changed jobs and changed boyfriends. I held the job though, I had enough resources to afford a very cheap apt, food, I was living. I was able to reduce my drug intake and booze. I went to night school (the company helped me pay for it). I took a second job, selling men’s dress shoes. I hustled my ass off and did everything I could to generate income and better my position.

By the time I got out of that company I had an associate degree, I cleaned up A LOT, and I was dating my future wife. Fast forward to now, 30 years removed I have two college degrees, a very nice house, financial independence, a great family and a decent career. I have issues still, I struggle with anxiety, I have moments where I am not a fun person to be with.

I never thought I would arrive at this place in my life, I am happy, most of the time.

Where are you now? What do you see 5 years from now in your life? Is it bad? Is it really bad? It’s likely much worse than my situation. I caught a break, but I didn’t know it was coming. I got one shot and I made it work. Life isn’t fair, most of the time it sucks but along the way you’ll likely meet people that can help you, you just have to have your eyes open enough to see that the help is there to take. It’s okay to take help, it’s okay to need assistance.

You must hang in there, imagine for a moment 30 years from now. What will you be? Where will you be? If I can make it, you can make it. 2021 is upon us and it might be your worse year or it might be your best. Eyes wide open in 2021.

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Gandalf

The Wisdom of Tolkien…. Again….

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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Oscar Wilde

Wisdom from a 50 year old – Me

No this is not one of my “ancient wisdom” pieces all though I am sure there is someone out there who will quip something about my age….. The wisdom?

A person with experience should not be a victim of a person with an opinion

This isn’t specific to any one thing, meaning you may have a lot of experience dating. You may be an experienced gamer, you may have experienced abuse of some kind…. Whatever the condition is experience is paramount. Everyone has opinions, it doesn’t mean those opinions are wrong either.

Ideally in life when you can, if you can, seek out people with experience first, cultivate opinions second. Also, do not discount yourself when considering people with experience. You are after all an expert in yourself, or becoming one. You’re instincts are likely based on your experiences and that is the path to true wisdom.

Don’t let people with an opinion speak into your life and victimize you with attempts at shame or guilt. I post this because we are on the cusp of the holidays and for many of us that means interactions with extended family and friends who are all “experts” in something. These experts, and their opinions can sometimes have a dramatic negative impact on you and in your life.

You are here, you are present, you are coping, and you are surviving. You are putting together minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years of life and you are moving forward. Opinions come and go, anyone can step into your life for a minute and give a dossier on what they see. Ignore them, seek people with experience, including the expert on you, you.

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Ben Franklin

Wisdom from the past – Benjamin Franklin

“Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins. Republics…derive their strength and vigor from a popular examination into the action of the magistrates.” Benjamin Franklin

If you are actively trying to silence/cancel other people’s ability to speak freely you are a tyrant or the tool of a tyrant. You are without question one of the most dangerous people on the planet. You are willing to shut down others because you don’t like them, or don’t like what they have to say. I actually pity you, and when the day comes when YOU are the one silenced/canceled you will receive no quarter.

Even if you don’t like what you are hearing or reading the ability to say or write it is paramount. When we silence others, we create the conditions by which dissent festers and breeds revolt and violence. History is littered with examples of this, you shouldn’t have to be reminded.

Don’t become worse than those you dislike, you will not be able to live with yourself and no one will want to live with you.

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Henry Ford

Wisdom from the Past – Henry Ford

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”
—Henry Ford

A quote from Henry Ford is likely going to be suspect for some, he is a complex individual. I think we can agree though that this person had a tremendous impact on the world and life as we know it now with his contributions to industrialism. So let’s examine this quote, it’s particularly relevant given the current state of the world.

We are entering what might be one of the most stressful seasons in modern western society. If you have anxiety the holiday season is already stressful enough. On top of that we have a pandemic to deal with, oh and a divisive presidential election. One of the worst years in modern history for people with mental health issues might have one hell of an ending.

EVERYTHING appears to be lining up to create the perfect storm of anxiety. It would be easy to hide away right now, hunker down and hope for the best. As Ford points out in the quote the plane takes off against the wind. You can of course delay life, no one would blame you, and again 2020 has been horrible. That said don’t give in to fear for fears sake.

You have to continue to move forward, you have to continue to heal yourself and continue to improve your mental health. One small step ahead every day is critical, even if you take two steps back the fact that you are trying to take off is the most important thing. What can you do today to help your mental health? No one knows you better than yourself, the runway is clear it’s time to try and take off even if the wind is against you.

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Ancient Wisdom - Confucius

Ancient Wisdom – Confucius

Many of us have heard of Confucius, we know that he was a Chinese philosopher who through his years of writing, observation and work in government created a philosophy of personal morality. This isn’t a political piece or a religious piece. As individuals with anxiety we can use wisdom of the past to help us in the present.

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”
—Confucius

How many times have we been faced with an issue that looks like a mountain? We get overwhelmed and we fall into the pit of woe that is anxiety and mental health issues. Is one little saying going to help us? Maybe a little, maybe not at all.

How to move mountains
When you have Anxiety, Mountains appear often.

That said at the end of the day events happen to us, mountains appear. We have to deal with them. The beauty of this wisdom is it illustrates literally and figuratively how to deal with a problem that becomes a mountain.

You have to start, and you work the problem one small step (stone) at a time. Look we all have obstacles that pop up in our lives and some of them are extreme. You can move that mountain, be calm, and be methodical… Take one step at a time, one stone at a time and in no time the mountain will be moved and you will be right back on your chosen path.

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The Value of time – As Time Passes

In my travels around the internet I often stumble across interesting pieces. Poems, quotes, obscure news stories… One of the concepts we talk about on this blog is the value of time. I believe that time is the most valuable commodity on the planet. It doesn’t care what your age is, your gender, your sexuality, your political affiliation, or where you live.

I found a great poem below. I cant remember where I found it but I did get the Author and the year it was written. Time goes by so fast, moments that I wish would never pass are now memories. The older I get the more I realize how much I have done, and how much I have missed. This poem is great, I hope you enjoy it too.

As Time Passes

Jenni-Fiere M. Bivens 2006

As the seconds pass,
We look back
At what our lives have held.

As the minutes pass,
We see what fell through the cracks.
Parts of our lives we withheld.

As the hours pass,
We think of what we learned,
What we have taught,
What we have forgot.

As the days pass,
We wish a lot could be returned.
We wish we would have never fought
You hope they forget me not.

As years pass,
You stand alone.
They have all grown,
Married and gone
Or on their own.

As your life passes,
You stand proud,
Looking how well they raise their own.
You did well.
Live on…


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Beyond the Trees

Wisdom from the past: Proverbs 18:2

From time to time I pull out a quote from history and use it to address a current issue. Today we are looking to our Christian friends for wisdom out of the book of proverbs.

The Selfishness of the Unfriendly
-He who isolates himself pursues selfish desires; he rebels against all sound judgment.-

What can we glean from this? As we travel further and further into an increased technological world, in the midst of a pandemic, some of us with anxiety, isolation is a distinct possibility for many. When we become isolated we begin to think singularly more so then normal. It is a natural state to think of your wellbeing, to think about yourself first. Choosing to isolate yourself leads to the pursuit of thought that focuses exclusively on self.

We decrease our empathy of others when we isolate. We change our thought patterns and judgements to reflect what we need, rather than attempt to understand why others don’t feel the same way we do. It’s okay to think of yourself first, it’s okay to assume your feelings and opinions are correct. The trap we need to avoid as we isolate more and more is to place judgements on others who do not feel as we do.

Regardless of what faith you are, isolation isn’t the answer.

Just because someone feel differently then you or has a different opinion does mean they are a bad person. It doesn’t mean you can’t get along with them, live together in peace. Don’t isolate yourself unnecessarily, and don’t cast judgements on others from your isolation. Do your best to engage with the abilities and skills you have.

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Gandalf

The Wisdom of Tolkien…Again..

“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.

Interested in more wisdom from Tolkien? Check out my post here