Lessons From Bilbo Baggins in 2014

Happy (belated) New Year!

I know, I know…I’m a little late to the New Year’s posting party.  With the holiday season finally winding down and things getting back to normal, I thought I’d take a break from writing and share my thoughts on the past year.  In the words of Charles Dickens, it was the best of times and it was the worst of times.  And yet, like many years past (and many more to come), the days were filled with life lessons that will certainly stay with me for the rest of my life.

I could give you a list like “14 Things I learned in 2014” (I admit that was the original title of this post, but you know how writing works-once you start typing, you automatically change your mind 30 seconds in.)  Instead of giving you my original idea, however, I thought I’d share some of the lessons I’ve learned using examples from Bilbo Baggins, everyone’s favorite Hobbit burglar!

  1. If you have a dream, live it.  Last New Year’s, I bought a Hobbit daily calendar.  On January 2, the picture for the day showed Bilbo Baggins walking out the door of Bag End and heading towards the great adventure that awaited him.  What was ironic about that, however, was that was the exact day I decided to finish and publish The Ripple Affair.  I had a dream of writing, but for so long (ten years, actually), I had delayed pursuing it.  On January 2, 2014, that all changed.  I made up my mind that no matter what, I was going to go on an adventure!  At least of the literary sort.  A few months later, my book was finished and headed to the publishing company.
  2. Be confident.  I have to admit that pursuing your dream is easier said than done.  Like what Bilbo faced, there’s a lot of scary things out there when you go out on your adventure.  There are (internet) trolls who will mock your work.  There are people (like Thorin) who might be unsure if you’re really qualified to accomplish that dream.  But the fire in your heart can only be quenched by you.  Believe in yourself.  Remember that you have a purpose.  And at the end of your adventure, your life will be golden knowing you’ve accomplished your dream.
  3. Have compassion.  There are a lot of hurting people in this world.  Maybe (like the Dwarves of Erebor), they lost their home.  Maybe (like Thorin), they lost a family member.  Or maybe they’re just plain having it rough and struggling with burdens (like Gollum and the One Ring).  Sometimes it isn’t easy to have compassion.  Sometimes we’d rather ignore the hurts and cares of others instead of listening or helping.  In the end, kindness triumphs, but only if we allow it.  Be kind.  Be compassionate.  And like Bilbo, you’ll be a history-changer.
  4. Let go of the past.  Maybe this would be a good time to play that one song from Frozen.  And in all honesty, I think this lesson should be based on Bard and Thorin instead of Bilbo.  Maybe we used to have it all and then a dragon swooped up and took it.  Maybe we come from a shamed family background that didn’t quite live up to expectations in saving the town from said dragon.  Or maybe we’ve just had a string of bad breaks, one after the other.  But like Bard and Thorin, we can choose how our past affects our present and future.  Will we obsess over what has happened and dwell on it until it consumes us, or will we let it go and let our past strengthen us for the days to come?  Will we be a Thorin, spending years over what used to be only to find our future spent?  Or will we be a Bard, remembering the past but knowing it doesn’t have to paralyze us, using what we’ve learned as preparation for the destiny in store.
  5. If you ever go on an adventure, hide the spoons.  Because we all have a Lobelia Sackville-Baggins in our family who would just love to have them.

I hope 2015 fills your days with joy, peace, prosperity, and purpose.  Have a wonderful New Year, everyone!

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