‘What Lord of the Rings is really good at portraying is that you can be courageous without having courage’ says director Peter Jackson. And he’s damn right.
It was year 2001 when my life’s been changed forever. This may sound a bit theatrical, but I honestly can’t imagine who or what I’d be today if it wasn’t for The Lord of the Rings trilogy. There’s so much these films have given me… and they keep providing me with inspiration up to this day. Whenever I feel down or a bit lost, all I need to do is to either watch the films, play the soundtrack or watch some of the documentaries to feel instantly home. And inspired. They remind me of all that is important to me and why have I ever set out on the journey I have. What brought me here to this moment in my life. Because with all honesty without LOTR I would NOT be where I am now. I would not even be an aspiring Hay House author though it may sound very unusual to you that these two things could possibly have anything in common – well, in my life they do (you can read more on that here).
But I don’t wanna talk about all that today, I’ll save that for some other time (perhaps a chapter in my upcoming book). Today I wanna talk about courage. Courage in face of hopelessness.
What is courage?
Courage is not lack of fear. Courage is going forward DESPITE fear.
You can be courageous even if you have no hope. To be able to go on and find hope in hopelessness, to be able to go on without knowing the outcome – that is courage.
To go into a battle you know you’re gonna lose, just like the Elves – that’s courage.
Acknowledge the fear, but don’t let it stop you.
No time to despair
The Elves have known for a long time they’re going to lose and yet they go out and fight. They fight until they are defeated. They don’t give up until the battle is decided. Nor do they leave Middle-Earth to its fate. Because it’s us who decide the fate. By taking actions. By not letting fear or despair stop us.
Because in reality, there is no place for despair in life. Despair is only for those who know what the future holds – and is anyone ever really at that position? Absolutely not. You never know how things are gonna turn out. You can guess. You can assume. You can hope for the outcome. But you can never be sure. And so the Elves fight. They fight even if they know they’re not gonna save Middle Earth for themselves.
When Frodo sets out on the journey to destroy the One Ring, there’s not much hope for success. Only – as Gandalf says – a fool’s hope. But if you never try, you will never know. Not trying and giving up will only ever lead to one thing – a certain defeat. Giving up means deciding the fate or the future, right here and right now. Are you ready to do that….? Or are you gonna try after all… find hope. Find courage.
In fact, it’s usually at our very lowest, when we’re able to find something within us that makes us finally get on our feet and make an effort. Against all odds. Because there is no other way. Because giving up means nothing. Giving up only means you loose. And none of us, my friends, are losers, are we 😉
‘Mordor, Gandalf… is it left or right?’
You don’t have to have all the answers. You don’t have to know HOW you’re gonna accomplish whatever it is you set out to do or how you’re gonna ‘save your world’. Frodo has no clue how to even get to Mordor. But all is revealed to him along the way. One step at a time. Despite the hopelessness of it all, thanks to true friendship and courage of everyone involved, himself included.
And sure, he gets lost on the way, and doesn’t always make the right choices. But that’s part of the journey we all must take.
The struggle is part of every journey. We are supposed to experience our lows and highs along the way. It’s what makes us grow. The more challenging times we’re facing, the more we learn, the more we grow. The more we change and become the person we are meant to become.
Positive mind can always find a way
All we need to do is to not let despair stop us. Because you know what? Maybe things will actually turn out okay! Our minds are way more powerful than we give them credit. And what we think, creates our reality. When we think positively, we can find hope in seemingly hopeless situation, we can think of solutions and we can become courageous without having courage.
Just think of Sam. Sam is the one who finds hope in any situation. Because he wouldn’t let despair get in the way. Because he’s true to his mission and to his Master and he sets his mind on achieving that goal. Has he any idea how? Of course not. But he wouldn’t let that stop him. Solutions will present themselves along the way. He knows it and he trusts and hopes it can be done.
It’s Sam’s true heart that also helps Frodo accomplish his mission. Without Sam, Frodo would have not gone very far.
It’s courage that allows Sam to literally carry Frodo into the Mount Doom despite all the exhaustion. It’s his mind that makes all that possible. And his love. Love for the world he lives in, love for his friend. Because love and courage go always hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. They give meaning to each other.
‘You can’t have courage without fear, you can’t be truly brave without knowing there is something to fear and to overcome that fear in order to go out there and face it. Courage means mastering fear. It’s taking action despite the fear. And the action wakes your heart and then your heart leads the way.’
Fight for your values
Another important message LOTR delivers is about fighting for the world we love. For the values we hold dear. For what we believe in. And as such, the film (book) makes it very clear we can’t do this on our own. We can’t win, if we don’t unite and work together.
LOTR’s story is not about heroic individualism. Fate of us all is way too interconnected. We must work together. and support each other in order to succeed. All the races must come together, without judgement, without prejudice. Without hatred. We must all join our forces to defend what matters to us, otherwise we cannot win.
If Frodo set out on the journey to Mordor alone, he would have never succeeded. His success was only ever possible thanks to the heroism of other characters, of ALL races, from and outside of the Fellowship.
We have to fight for the world we love together. No matter how hopeless it seems. Which in the times we’re living in now is a truly powerful message and as relevant as ever.
YOU Can Be the Change
And even if you feel just like an insignificant individual – think again of Frodo. He’s the most unlikely of heroes. He has the most unlikely chance of succeeding. He’s only a Hobit! He’s no soldier of Gondor, he’s not Aragorn, a skilled ranger. And yet, he tries. He tries, because there is no other way. And by doing so actually unites everyone else.
As Galadriel said, even the smallest person can change the course of the future. Frankly, just by deciding to do something, to try. To take on responsibility. To face his fears. To find hope where there is none. That’s true courage.
Truth is, we are capable of so much more than we think. We are capable of things beyond our wildest dreams. But you will never find what those things are, what dreams you could conquer, how much you can accomplish and what impact you could make, if you never take action.
Frodo didn’t really believe he could finish his mission successfully. But he went nevertheless. He went on, even if he thought he’s gonna fail. Because it was his task. It was appointed to him.
Compared to Frodo though, you have the advantage of choosing your own path. And if you feel like you can’t, think again. You always have a choice. In fact, Frodo had a choice, too… but he chose courage. He chose to show up for his task and his destiny.
As Gandalf says “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” Don’t ponder too much on why you. Just go and do your best.