The Thought for the Day – Bilbo and Gandalf

“…but I expect you know best, as usual.”
“I do – When I know anything.”
-Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey, J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Neither the book nor the author that produced today’s Thought require introduction from us. We will say our introduction to this book came completely by accident. A co-worker had left a copy of it lying around. Initially we turned our nose up at it, but we were bored enough to open it to a random page and were immediately captivated by the writing, even though we don’t really have the imagination for stories of this sort.

So we went and started from the beginning, reading book one. Then a buddy of ours said introduced us to The Hobbit so we read that, then started The Lord of the Rings from the beginning again. We still feel this is as well-written a book as the English language has produced.

For the uninitiated, Bilbo was the central character in The Hobbit, and is the cousin of the main character of Lord of the Rings, Frodo Baggins. Gandalf is a wizard, and the two are chatting about some advice Gandalf has given Bilbo.

We must know our strengths and our weaknesses. There is no substitute for this, for any of us. We cannot go against our grain. If we tried to earn a living as a mechanic we would have had no success, because we have neither the interest in, nor the aptitude for, fixing cars. We were put here to write.

By utilizing our strengths we are doing the most good to ourselves and when we do that we are being the most use to our fellow humans. All of us were issued assorted and different talents and purposes at birth. The most satisfying lives are passed by those who have discovered their talents and strive to get the most out of them.

By avoiding our weaknesses we avoid getting mired in things we are not good at, avoiding a life we were not meant to live. By ignoring our strengths we miss out developing the talents we were issued at birth, one of life’s great prizes.

“I do – When I know anything.”

As today’s Thought shows, Gandalf knew his strengths and his weaknesses, and he wasn’t shy about acknowledging both. Nor should we be shy about this, either. We can all do something well. By facing and maximizing our strengths and minimizing our weaknesses, we put ourselves in a position to get the most out of our time on this planet.

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