13 Things The Lord of the Rings Taught Me About Life

Back in 2001, when The Fellowship of the Ring hit the cinemas, I didn’t think twice.

I wouldn’t see it. It wasn’t my thing.

Then a group of friends said they were going and I decided to tag along, rather than sitting on my own.

From the first minute I was captivated. By the end, my world had been turned upside down.

I ended up seeing it another 5 or 6 times.

Now I’m (slightly) older I see it wasn’t just the stunning New Zealand scenery or the epic scores of Howard Shore that hooked me. It hit upon something else, something deep in my psyche. Even now I get a lump in my throat at certain points during the three films and almost always have to brush away a tear at the end of The Return of the King.

The Shire


Well, here are the quotes that made the most impact and what they meant to me in the context of my own life. Maybe they resonate with you too.


Life is an adventure:

“BILBO: It’s a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to.”


It’s on us, always:

“GANDALF: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”


Don’t fear death:

“PIPPIN: I didn’t think it would end this way.
GANDALF: End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.
PIPPIN: What? Gandalf? See what?
GANDALF: White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.
PIPPIN: Well, that isn’t so bad.
GANDALF: No. No, it isn’t.” 


You’re exactly where you’re meant to be:

“GANDALF: There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.”


You cannot carry the burdens of those around you, but you can carry them when they need it:

“SAM: Then let us be rid of it… once and for all! Come on, Mr. Frodo. I can’t carry it for you… but I can carry you!”


Tears are not always bad or sad and goodbyes are one of life’s beautiful moments:

“GANDALF: Farewell, my brave Hobbits. My work is now finished. Here at last, on the shores of the sea… comes the end of our Fellowship. I will not say do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.”


Pain will always pass:

“SAM: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.”


Whatever it is, you can take it:

“GANDALF: Through fire and water. From the lowest dungeon to the highest peak, I fought him, the Balrog of Morgoth. Until at last, I threw down my enemy and smote his ruin on the mountainside. Darkness took me. And I strayed out of thought and time. Stars wheeled overhead and every day was as long as a life-age of the earth. But it was not the end.”


Let go of all of your crap if you want to be truly effective:

“ARAGORN: Not if we hold true to each other. We will not abandon Merry and Pippin to torment and death. Not while we have strength left. Leave all that can be spared behind. We travel light. Let’s hunt some Orc.”


Size really doesn’t matter:

“FRODO: I know what I must do, it’s just that… I’m afraid to do it.
GALADRIEL: Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”


Optimism is one of the greatest gifts you can give:

“FRODO: Mordor… I hope the others find a safer road.

SAM: Strider’ll look after ‘em.

FRODO: I don’t suppose we’ll ever see them again.

SAM: We may yet, Mr Frodo. We may.

FRODO: Sam… I’m glad you’re with me.”


To be impartial is to be wise:

“FRODO: I will take it! I will take the Ring to Mordor. Though, I do not know the way.”


What The Lord of the Rings reminded me, first and foremost, is not to judge a book by its cover and to take the opportunities that come your way. The thing you think ‘isn’t for you’ or ‘not my cup of tea’ might just be thing that changes your life. And that brings us to the final lesson, perhaps the most important one of all:

Today is all we have. Use it. 

“ARAGORN: I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of Men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the Age of Men comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day we fight!”

The Return of the King


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    • SamBeddall says

      I think there’s a bit of debate on this one, heard a few people say one or the other. Thanks for stopping by!

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