The Thought for the Day – J.R.R. Tolkien

Fortune had betrayed him for the moment, and the world had turned against him. Victory was slipping from his grasp even as he stretched out his hand to seize it. But his arm was long. – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

We’ve had a rash of Lord of the Rings quotes recently, during which we noted our introduction to the book. It was at work years ago, probably circa 1999 or so, and we picked up the book out of boredom certain we would quickly put it back down because – we thought – books of this sort wouldn’t be to our taste. We noted the writing drew us in.

Today’s Thought was the first line we read from a page chosen at random. We’ve always felt it represents life in a nutshell. Not everything goes our way every single time. Sometimes fate seems to conspire against us even when what we want seemed to have been there for the taking.

We are currently reading a book about George Washington, who presents a perfect example of this. Few Americans are as revered as Washington. A complete review of his exploits is beyond the scope of The Thought for the Day, but his position in American history is, of course, as secure as it is well-earned.

However, even when Washington was at his pinnacle, commanding the Continental Army and serving as the first president of the United States, things didn’t go his way. In fact, many things didn’t go his way. Washington, however, never swerved from the path he felt his life should take, especially when it seemed the fates had turned against. Perseverance was allowed to finish its work.

But his arm was long.

Our arms must be long, too. Nobody is going to give us anything in this life. Or, at least, anything of value. If we want something, we must want it bad enough to go and get it. What we want must come from something deep inside us. When it does, our instincts will tell us how to get there. When we follow our hearts and trust our instincts, we should not be surprised when the time comes to reach out our hand and seize what we went after.

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