The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, is one of my favorite books. I’ve read or listened to it several times, and the tale always strikes a new chord with me (which is why you should re-read books). The past couple of times, both as a reader and listener, a myriad of quotes have jumped out at me, leaving me to think about their application in writing, business, friendship, trust, and bravery.
Since The Hobbit film is being released today, and millions of fans return to Middle-Earth, I wanted to share 12 of my favorite quotes and lessons with you. I hope they speak to you as well.
Home is now behind you, the world is ahead! – Gandalf
In every telling of the great stories, the Hero’s Journey, the Hero must take leave of what has been comfortable and normal for him or her. We must do this as well when we strike out on a new adventure, and awaken from slumber to the quest ahead.
The world is not in your books and maps, it’s out there – Gandalf
In starting a new venture, whether it be a blog, business, or podcast, we must overcome the temptation to have all the answers and read all the right books. We must begin, the world is out there!
There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world – Thorin
This lovely quote speaks for itself, and has only taken on more meaning in the present world.
It’s a dangerous business, walking out one’s front door – Gandalf
In our hyper-cautious, mostly fearful world (will I be safe? what about the kids? what are the risks?), Gandalf offers a kind reminder that our mere existence is the cause of much danger, and adventure.
It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him – Gandalf
This sounds like a silly, unnecessary piece of advice, but how often do we actually overlook an aspect of our plan which can so easily ruin everything? Looking back, we may wonder how we could have missed it! Much like you should be prepared if dragons are nearby.
The road goes ever on and on
We must continue to walk the road, leaving old mistakes and success behind, for there is still much to do.
Gandalf: I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.
Bilbo: I should think so—in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can’t think what anybody sees in them …
Gandalf: You’ll have a tale or two to tell when you come back
Bilbo: You can promise that I’ll come back?”
Gandalf: No. And if you do, you will not be the same
We often do not want to change, we want to remain the same. Nasty, disturbing thing, change. Yet when the call of adventure sings in our ear, we feel a stirring in our souls to follow. At this point, our friends and family may be equally hesitant for us to change, because they know we will not be the same! This tension can the cause of a lot of pain, but does not mean we should resist.
Now is the time for Bilbo to perform the service for which he was included in our company ; now is the time for him to earn his reward – Thorin
Remember you are called to act, to fulfill the role you were made for. Fighting against your call is fruitless, for you will never be content until you have acted. Earn your keep.
Surely you don’t disbelieve the prophecies just because you helped them come about. You don’t really suppose do you that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck? Just for your sole benefit? You’re a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I’m quite fond of you. But you are really just a little fellow, in a wide world after all – Gandalf
We can easily be pulled in to the temptation to think we have done everything ourselves, our success is a direct result of our performance, and that we deserve our success. But we must remember there is a lot of variance in the world, and we are just a small piece of a larger game.
You will have to manage without pocket-handkerchiefs, and a good many other things, before you get to the journey’s end – Dwalin
I know I can go on a trip (or even to work) believing I need certain things. When I went to Haiti last December, I brought far too much. Even in my day-to-day life, I go about thinking I need this or that to be happy, when in reality my happiness is received by much simpler things, and mostly by people. I can manage without a good many things.
Bilbo had many hardships and adventures before he got back. The wild was still the wild
We believe that once we’ve reached the summit, once the quest has been completed, that life will return to normal, or we will live in great fame. Not true. The wild is still the wild after all, and we have duty to fulfill. We must return, yes! But we must also contribute, and contribution is a dangerous, life-changing act. Contribute daily.
There is a lot more in Bilbo than you guess, and a deal more than he has any idea of himself – Gandalf
Perhaps there is a lot more in you than you guess. Or in your spouse. Or in your kids. Or in your friends. You should find out, not all journeys involve leaving your home.
If you have some of your own to share, either before or after viewing, let us know in the comments!
If you enjoyed this post, I encourage you to check out Joe Bunting’s related post – What the Hobbit taught me about writing.