We meet so many assholes in the course of our day, I think it is easy to assume that almost everyone we meet thinks so very highly of themselves. But yet, almost everyone I have gotten to know deeply … everyone who shows some level of vulnerability and honesty … thinks of themselves as not good enough in some major aspect of their own life. And I was reminded of this again tonight, after a Zoom meeting with my men’s group. Pretty much every man there discussed some way they fell short of their own hopes for themselves, but for everyone else, their “failings” provided an example of the strength and depth of their character, and reminded us all of how hard we are working to better ourselves. It all reminded me deeply of one of my favorite literary characters … Sam Gamgee.
Sam is described as the simple gardener of our ordinary hobbit protagonist, Frodo Baggins, in the literary giant, The Lord of the Rings. Hobbits themselves are described in this series as folk who take to gardening, and especially eating and drinking, significantly more than any adventure you dare speak of. And despite this, the author, J.R.R. Tolkien, later described Sam as the main hero of the story. A man who created an entire world from his imagination … a world of Elves, Dwarves, Men, Orcs, and Ents … a world where he created several of his own languages, and an untold number of classic archetypes of heroes, still says that the main hero is the simple gardener of an ordinary Hobbit.
And yet, as you read the books, you slowly gain an appreciation for Hobbit folk, and for their simple ways. After all, only through his “plain hobbit sense” is Sam able to shake off the lures of the Ring, and the magic it possesses. This hobbit sense … this understanding of our place in our world … for so many it is a sign that we are less than our heroes in some way … and yet, it may be the very path we need to trod to become the hero of our own story. As Gandalf wisely advises Frodo, when he laments the Ring every coming into his possession … “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
May this be the reminder you need to become the hero of you own story … not because you are a mythical champion bearing a bright sword, or a magical wizard with knowledge and power, but because you are a simple man, or woman, who is choosing to do what is hard when it is necessary.