It’s not often that I look to fiction for advice. If I’m honest, I tend not to look anywhere. It’s not a good habit, but it is what it is. Tolkien’s words have often been used for inspiration, and I suppose there’s really nothing wrong with that.
“All that is gold does not glitter” is probably the most used, with “Not all those who wander are lost” being a close second. There’s “Short cuts make for long delays,” and “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
But for me, being 5’4″, there’s hardly a quote more handy than that said by Sam to himself as he chased after Aragorn when looking for Frodo after he disappeared near Amon Hen:
‘Whoa, Sam Gamgee!’ he said aloud. ‘Your legs are too short, so use your head!’
Just prior to this, Boromir told the Fellowship the very briefest and friendliest (to him) outlines of the conversation he had with Frodo not too many moments before. After Boromir told them that Frodo put on the Ring, Aragorn asked him if that was all he had to say. It was.
Sam was immediately suspicious, but, like the rest of them, was freaking out. The Fellowship divided into pairs to search for Frodo, with Aragorn telling Sam to come with him. He was going to the top of Amen Hen.
Poor Sam simply couldn’t keep up, his mind racing much faster than his feet. He stopped, spoke those wonderful words and then sussed out the situation.
Boromir wasn’t lying, he concluded, “that’s not his way; but he hasn’t told us everything.” He knew Frodo better than any of them, and knew that he must have been forced into making up his mind to go East, to Mordor. “Not without Sam? Yes, with even his Sam. That’s hard, cruel hard.”
Sam, of course, was right. Frodo had made up his mind: “I must go now or I shall never go.” He even telling himself that Sam would understand.
And Sam did understand. He understood exactly what this meant. Frodo had been pushed by Boromir and could take no more. The decisions Frodo made in that moment were reckless, cruel and hard.
Once he slowed down to consider the situation, it wasn’t long before he figured that Frodo, without supplies, would have to head back to the boats. So rather than stumbling his way with Aragorn to the summit of Amen Hen, he circled back to the landing, where he saw a boat which seemed to slip into the water all on its own.
Our Sam, running towards the river, had little time to think and fell into the water, nearly drowning himself. But if he had stopped this time and used his head, Frodo would have gotten away. And so he led with his heart and found his dear friend.
The scene that then transpired between the two is one of my favorites. Frodo knew (best he could) what the trip to Mordor would mean for Sam – in all likelihood, death. And Sam knew that without him along to see after Frodo, his friend would certainly die. While Frodo’s fear seems more understandable, Sam’s is closer to the mark.
In the end, Frodo was happy to have Sam with him. But I’m glad, Sam. I cannot tell you how glad. Come along! It is plain that we were meant to go together.”
This line always gets me. It seems to echo Elrond’s own at the council: “‘If I understand aright all that I have heard,’ he said, ‘I think that this task is appointed for you, Frodo; and that if you do not find a way, no one will.'”
And I’ve always considered that line to be a sort of ripple of Yavanna saying to Manwë, “Yet it was in the Song.”.
Not that Elrond had heard the Music of the Ainur, or that Frodo even knew what that was, but that there was something greater at play going on – some larger story. Later in Lord of the Rings, Sam will reference this: “Why, to think of it, we’re in the same tale still! It’s going on. Don’t the great tales never end?”
So take Sam’s advice – your legs are too short, there’s no real way that you can keep up with the insanity of what’s going on around you. Pause and take a moment to collect your thoughts. Use your head. Everything will be clearer then. You are small part of a larger story, and though it’s small, it’s significant. And though your legs are too short, that’s okay, the role you are playing is essential.
A Few Notes
- This was a really fun post to write before diving into the Silmarillion!
- I think I’m taking Monday off, and will start the Silm posts on Wednesday. Of course, we’ll not start with the actual start of the book, but a bit of an introduction. See you then!
About the Photo
Little arms – little legs, what’s the difference as long as we’re together, right? Right! This was taken with my first film camera after getting back into film – The Holga. I’ve not used this in years, having moved on to exclusively vintage cameras, but I still really like a few of the photos I took with it. This was at Dinosaur Park in Rapid City, South Dakota. Wonderful place that maybe we’ll hit again someday.
- Miles today: 0
- Miles thus far: 1309 (389 miles since leaving Lothlórien)
- 470 miles to Mt. Doom
Book II, Chapter 8, Farewell to Lórien. Drifting down the Anduin, February 26, 3019 TA. (map)