August 20, 2015

Pushing Through Manmade Boundaries--Hobbit Style

Are you intimidated by the thought of change, even minor blips in your routine? Do you enjoy living in your comfort zone? Do you think your life now is “as good as it gets”? Does the thought of any risk petrify you? Well, join the club! This club membership likely numbers in the billions; it’s not exclusive…unfortunately.

Today, I would like to concentrate on what we can learn about pushing through the fears of rejection and failure from J.R.R Tolkien’s book, The Hobbit. I will list seven tips the main character, hobbit Bilbo Baggins, teaches the reader about moving beyond boundaries:

1. Never underestimate yourself.

Bilbo Baggins, like most hobbits, has led a comfortable, pain-free life. He is wealthy and secluded from the trauma of some of the surrounding areas.  During the beginning of The Hobbit, he doesn’t believe he is qualified for more than a humdrum existence. However, he soon learns he is capable of great feats of daring.

2. Don’t be intimidated by adventure.

When Gandalf and the dwarves (Tolkien's personal spelling of the word) first arrive at Bilbo’s house to discuss their mission, Bilbo is confused, then terrified.  The group has to almost lead him kicking and screaming (literally) into their life-altering quest.  However, Bilbo proves he’s up to the challenge when he continues to discover creative solutions to roadblocks along their journey.

3. Embrace change: don’t remain stuck in the past.

Generations of hobbits have been defined by a lack of passion and creativity. They don’t want to be bothered to move beyond their borders, literally or figuratively. Bilbo breaks that mold. He forges new territory for his entire race.

4. Don’t accept defeat. If one way doesn’t work, try another method.

Bilbo is faced with many life-threatening difficulties.  Yet, he doesn’t cower and accept defeat from any malevolent creatures. He uses his mind, secret weapons, and any available resource to keep himself alive.

5. Don’t limit your group to only people who are the same as you.

The hobbit is initially intimidated by the variety of beings he encounters. Some aren’t even humanoid. Yet, he learns the important lesson that all forms of life have the capacity for nobility.

6. The accepted protocol doesn’t always work.

Gandalf doesn’t follow the accepted guidelines of being a polite houseguest. He and the dwarves drop in unexpectedly on Bilbo. They ungraciously demand his immediate help, attention, and hospitality. This may have been the only way to jar Bilbo out of his comfort zone, and Gandalf knew it. If the wizard had politely notified Bilbo of the arrival of the group, as well as the hazardous mission, the hobbit would probably have refused to participate from the beginning.

7. Don’t worry about being accepted in narrow-minded groups.

When Bilbo returns home, he is shunned by most of the other hobbits, even his own relatives. Yet, he doesn’t confine himself to their narrow parameters. He refuses to think less of himself because he knows that his new friends love and accept himself. Most important of all, he has embraced self-acceptance.

My Conclusion

“Boxes” are comfortable (just ask any cat); adventure isn’t—for many people. Some of us prefer known restrictions to the terrifying world of the unknown, no matter how claustrophobic the boundaries may seem. Bilbo Baggins demonstrates how anyone can transform a reserved, fearful spirit into that of a warrior.

How have you chosen to break through boundaries?

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