4 Life Lessons I Learned from The Lord of the Rings
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4 Life Lessons I Learned from The Lord of the Rings

Tolkien's teachings continue to provide an inspiring message.

4 Life Lessons I Learned from The Lord of the Rings

Any nerd worth their salt can tell you that J.R.R.Tolkien’s masterpiece “The Lord of the Rings” is without a doubt one of the most influential pieces of fictional literature of our time. The adventures of Frodo, Sam, Aragorn, and the whole Company spawned an entire generation of media inspired by the themes and motifs of Middle Earth. While magical rings, immortal elves, and wise old wizards might be exciting, now looking back on my own experience with Tolkien’s writing, I can’t help but notice the important life lessons that I learned from reading his books and watching the movies.

1. You Can’t Abandon Your Friends (But You Do Need to Trust Them).

There’s a crucial moment in “The Lord of the Rings” where Aragorn makes a set of decisions, he goes out after Merry and Pippin after they are captured by Uruks and chooses to let Frodo and Sam travel on to Mordor on their own. The friends who come into our lives are (hopefully) many and as different as there are stars in the sky. With that wonderful tapestry of people, they are all going to make choices that resonate with them. And sometimes we will simply not understand, but like Aragorn and Frodo we have to let them go.

We have to support them even if it means giving them nothing but our trust. On the other side of that coin, being a good friend means that you have to know when your friends truly need your help. You wouldn’t let a friend down while their being carried off by a pack of Uruks, nor should you ignore a friend why they are struggling with something, no matter how small. Putting aside your own perspective and fighting your way through a throng of Orcs to understand the mindset of your friend is sometimes the noblest thing we can to in order to help our friends. And Merry and Pippin, they’re relationship needs no explanation, just chill out and be marvelous to each other.

2. Don’t Be Afraid of Difference.

In a lot of ways “The Lord of the Rings” deals with issues of difference. The tensions between Legolas and Gimli and the gender bias of Theoden towards his shield-maiden niece Eowyn stick out the most to me, especially in today’s world. Take our favorite Elven Prince and his Bearded Buddy. In the first two installments we see two people of entirely different, and very much hostile, backgrounds bickering with each other. But when the time comes for the Free People’s to stand at the Gates of Mordor, when crunch-time comes, not only do they stand together, they show how they’ve overcome their differences and accepted each other. In the appendices, Tolkien lets us know that they spend the rest of their lives hanging out together - ultimate bromance right there).

So where Gimli and Legolas show us how powerful it can be to learn about someone different, while still being true to yourself; Eowyn points out to us that sometimes you have to be different. Sometimes you have to consciously push past those boundaries and comfort zones and maybe stab a Nazgul. She ignores all the nonsense that she’s heard about what is proper for her and takes the reins (literally) of her life and does something no one else had ever thought of doing!

3. Sometimes You Want to Be Like a Supporting Character.

As marvelous a character as Frodo Baggin’s is, the characters that have impacted my life the most from “The Lord of the Rings” are other members of the Company. Most notably, Samwise Gamgee, the dependable and solid best friend to our hero Frodo, may be without a doubt the best role model in the entire series. Not only is he loyal, dependable, and brave beyond all belief, he does all this while being incredibly compassionate and understanding. True, he and Frodo do fight, but Sam always comes back, even if it means battling a giant Spider. In a lot of ways, it’s Sam who taught me what it means to be a good friend. If Sam taught me about friendship, then Aragorn taught me about being a leader and how to handle responsibility.

To be frank, Aragorn is the “cool” character, he is dark, mysterious, and ultimately ties the entire story together. But his story taught me about how to accept responsibility for others, to understand that when someone places their trust in you, you have a duty to them not to let them down. When you become a leader, even if you don't’ want to be one, you have to not only have to support those you lead, but rely on them. Part of being a good leader is realizing that sometimes you do need to toss you dwarven friend and others ask “Legolas, what do your elf-eyes see?”.

4. Don’t Forget About Home.

Much like Frodo we are all on some kind of journey, maybe not to plunge a magical ring into the heart of a volcano; but nonetheless we all go through challenges, traverse mountains and bogs, and deal with disillusioned peers (ala Boromir). For many the idea of home keeps us going. Like Frodo and Sam thinking about strawberries in the summertime while climbing up the slopes of Mount Doom, missing your family pet or your bed at home during finals week; we keep these memories of home with us. It seems simple but we need these memories, something to help us remember how we came to be where we are. Home doesn’t always mean the same thing to all though and while like Sam you might be perfectly content in a comfy hobbit hole, maybe you’re more like Frodo and need to take to the sea and home becomes the open road. Wherever you call home, never forget just how powerful the memory of home can be.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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