A few days ago, I went and saw The Hobbit. (Really liked the HFR, by the way.) I don’t remember if I read The Hobbit in high school, (my guess is not), so the story was completely new to me (aside from being a good representation of the hero’s journey) — just as The Lord of the Rings was when I watched the three movies. (Trivia: LOTR is not a trilogy, even though it is often referred to as such.)
Anyway, as I was watching, there were a few instances I noticed that could serve as quintessential lessons. Given that The Hobbit is a good example of the hero’s journey, it’s not surprising that there’d be great lessons to be found in the story. Of course, if you haven’t seen the movie…
The three instances I’m going to share all happen within — essentially — the same scene. If you’ve seen the movie (or read the book), you’ll probably know what I’m talking about.
The first instance comes courtesy our good friend — Bilbo Baggins. It takes place right near the end of the film when Bilbo, Gandalf, and the dwarves are stuck in the tree. Gandalf and the dwarves set the trees on fire to scare off Azog and the Orcs, but it doesn’t work. Thorin (who is to be the leader of the dwarves), descends from the tree to try to fight with Azog. As was to be expected, Azog dominates Thorin and Thorin is about to die. Bilbo — seeing this — and noticing that no one else in the trees looks like they’ll be able to help, descends from the tree to come to Thorin’s rescue to stave off imminent death.
So, the instance that I’m talking about is Bilbo doing what he could do at the time. He knew there was no way for him to be able to take on all the Orcs by himself, but it was clear, in the moment, he was the only one that could have saved Thorin from death. Bilbo had to have faith that by him doing what he did, the other dwarves could then free themselves from the tree and then come to the rescue of Thorin and Bilbo.
Lesson #1: Even though you can’t see how things will turn out, it’s important to do what you can in the moment.
The second instance also comes from this scene. While the dwarves are stuck in the tree, Gandalf catches a butterfly and whispers to it. This proves important because after Bilbo saves Thorin from Azog, a group of eagles comes to the aid of the dwarves. The eagles pick up the dwarves in their talons or swoop them onto their backs and fly off with them. While this is happening, most of the eagles are pulling the dwarves from the tree. Gandalf wasn’t pulled from the tree. In fact, he was the last one to be rescued from the tree and he wasn’t even rescued. As the tree’s roots are being pulled up from the ground, Gandalf has to jump off the cliff… and have faith that one of the eagles will fly by and pick him up. Of course, he did — and an eagle did.
Lesson #2: Even though you can’t see what’s in front of you, sometimes you have to have faith… and jump!
The last instance occurs afte the eagles have dropped off the dwarves, Bilbo, and Gandalf far from the clutches of the Orcs. While on this rock, Thorin says something to the group (and Bilbo), about the fact that he should never have taken him on this quest. And then he says something to the effect of, ‘I’m so glad I was wrong.’ I may have the wording or the bits and pieces of this wrong, but the point I wanted to highlight here is that Thorin was wrong, he knew it, and he admitted it.
Lesson #3: When you’re wrong, don’t be afraid to say so.