Happy holidays everyone!
This has been a crazy year, huh? I hope these holidays are bringing you some respite from the craziness and that you are able to connect with loved ones and friends.
Some of my students this year and I started watch parties that we’ll continue on into next year. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll send you details.
At the beginning of this week, we watched The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and it seemed like the perfect story for our times. (I want to do an encore viewing of them in Jan or Feb when the 4k versions are more readily available!) So, in the meantime, here are three quotes, one from each movie, that I thought were particularly meaningful:
- In Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo and Gandalf have a moment in the Mines of Moria when Frodo laments,
“I wish that none of this had happened.”
Gandalf’s reply: “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for us to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
Life can seem unfair and without reason, especially this year, it seems. But, in truth, to live meaningfully is to constantly strive to make life better. The struggle for happiness is what gives life purpose. Choosing to accept the challenge is the decision to take control of the thing that you actually can control–yourself. And how you act in the world and your ability to stay true is your measure.
- In The Two Towers, Frodo, the Ringbearer, finds that he’s sinking more into despair as the challenges keep adding up (in this case, Nazgul appear on winged beasts to terrorize the garrison). Sam, the Support Hero, gives probably his most famous speech:
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 matter. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the ending 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.
Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer.
Those are the stories that stay with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why.
But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand now.
I know now.
The folk in those stories had lots of chances for turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding onto something.”
Frodo asks, “What are we holding onto, Sam?”
“That’s there some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.”
(You might recognize the last line from an email I sent out earlier this year. 😉 )
The struggle is important because there is always hope that it *can* get better. There’s always some good in the world, no matter how dire things may seem and how it may seem like there are villains in every corner who care only about themselves. But there’s always a projective future we can work towards to find the good and make it better.
- In The Return of the King, Frodo and Sam are soooo close to their goal, but the weight of the ring (i.e., the weight of the world) is too much for Frodo to bear, and he finds that he cannot continue. After Sam asks Frodo to remember The Shire, the lush meadows, the smell of the fresh crops, and the taste of the season’s first strawberries and cream, Frodo admits that he can’t remember any of it. Sam realizes, he’s about to lose Frodo and says,
“I can’t carry it for you, but I *can* carry you.”
He then lifts Frodo up and, with renewed vigor, carries his friend up the mountainside.
Ultimately, it’s within each of us to find the responsibility to live a good life and to reconcile with any demons or personal hang ups we may have. But that doesn’t mean each of us is alone. We can’t take on our friend’s personal burdens, but we *can* support *them* when they need it so they can concentrate on their inner burdens.
I hope the end of 2020 means something for you like it does me. A turning point where humanity can regroup and find renewed conviction to do right by each other and to also focus inward in doing right by ourselves.
I’ll leave with three things:
- The Great Conjunction happened on Monday. Remember that our acute experiences are fleeting in the grand scheme of things, and be in awe of the majesty of the universe.
- I recently rediscovered the School of Life videos: https://www.youtube.com/c/theschooloflifetv/videos
- And, when all else fails, cats in snow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_t773h9UolY&feature=youtu.be
cheers, happy holidays, and lmk if you want to join the watch parties