Being over 2000 years old may mean you have a lot of grey hair, but it also means you have a wealth of life experience and the wisdom that comes with it. In The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf’s life takes place on a different scale than the other creatures of Middle Earth, allowing him to bear witness to the changing tides of the ages. Given everything he’s been through and the amount of knowledge he’s collected over the years, the members of the Fellowship often defer to him for counsel. Always one to deliver, Gandalf never hesitates to offer tidbits of wisdom to his companions, whether he’s musing on the punctuality of wizards or reflecting on the nature of life itself.
Here are eight Gandalf quotes that prove he’s as wise as he is a wizard.
8 Even The Very Wise Cannot See All Ends
We humans pride ourselves on our big brains, but even the greatest of minds cannot predict the future (no, not even Gandalf the Grey). To presume you know what’s going to happen next is pure hubris, which is what doomed Saruman in the end.
He may have been wise in his own way, but he allied himself with the enemy after judging Sauron to be unconquerable, unwilling to consider the possibility that his dark assessment of the future might not come to be. The truly wise know that no one has all the answers, and that hope is always worth hanging on to. Even in the darkest of times, an unforeseen light could appear to banish the grey, whether in the form of a hobbit... or a Latina politician from the Bronx.
7 All We Have To Do Is Decide What To Do With The Time That Is Given To Us
We often get bogged down by the minutiae of life, obsessing over which non-fat latte to order or whether or not to buy that random thing off eBay. But a satisfying life has nothing to do with Starbucks drinks or online shopping (no matter how good of a deal that Sting replica is).
To make the most of your life on this planet, all you have to do is decide what you want to do with your remaining time — then do it. What sights do you want to see? What kind of impact do you want to have on the world? And who do you want to share all of that with? Figure it out, then find a way to live the life you want to be living.
6 If In Doubt... Always Follow Your Nose
This is just good sense. In Gandalf’s case, he was using his sense of smell to find his way out of the Mines of Moria, following the scent of fresh air to the surface. Although most of us probably don’t have a strong enough sense of smell to sniff our way out of a cave like some kind of enchanting bloodhound, even we mortals are capable of following our noses to a good French bakery or shawarma joint. When in doubt about what to have for lunch, the nose never lies.
5 Do Not Be Too Eager To Deal Out Death In Judgment
Killing people in judgment is a quick way to become more like those you’re trying to bring to justice. The path to a more ethical society is modeling the behavior we hope others will emulate.
Although leading by example probably wouldn’t do much to rehabilitate a villain like Sauron, it’s the only way to keep ahold of your soul when dealing with an enemy who’s forgone theirs. As Michelle Obama put it, "When they go low, we go high," which remains relevant whether they are in reference to a villainous megalomaniac... or Sauron.
4 A wizard Is Never Late, Nor Is He Early. He Arrives Precisely When He Means To
If only this line would work on our professors when we’re late for class. But no matter how nerdy they are, most teachers will not accept quotable lines from The Lord of the Rings as an excuse for tardiness. Despite this unfortunate fact, this line is still one of Gandalf’s most memorable. Given the importance modern society places on punctuality, it’s probably best not to live your life by this rule. But if Gandalf agreed to meet me, he could arrive whenever the heck he wanted to, as long as he brought fireworks.
3 Death Is Just Another Path, One We All Must Take
Unless you’re an Elf, death is life’s only certainty. But we don’t need to fear it like it’s some fiery Balrog awaiting us at the end of the line (actually, that would be a pretty cool way to go).
We can look at death like Gandalf does; it’s just another path to take. Like we all have to attend school and get a job, we all must eventually walk alongside the Reaper. But instead of looking at death as an ending, we can treat it like it’s our final adventure (hopefully complete with hobbits).
2 The World Is Not In Your Books And Maps. It Is Out There
For us nerds, it can be tempting to stay in our cozy little hobbit holes and read about the excitement of other people’s lives from the safety of our armchairs. But few adventures can take place from the comfort of your sitting room. To truly live your life, you have to pull a Bilbo Baggins and engage in the dangerous business of going out your door. Who knows where the road will take you?
1 It Is The Small Things, Everyday Deeds Of Ordinary Folk That Keeps The Darkness At Bay. Simple Acts Of Love And Kindness
Although heroes certainly deserve acknowledgment for their great deeds, a good deal of the credit belongs to the people they deemed worth fighting for. The great people of history were not born in a vacuum. They were shaped by the societies they were raised in, inspired by the people who surrounded them. Most of the hobbits of the Shire may not have had a direct hand in vanquishing Sauron, but it was their goodness that Frodo crossed Middle Earth to protect (except for those darned Sackville-Bagginses).
In The Lord of the Rings, it was the everyday deeds of ordinary Little Folk that inspired four hobbits to rise up against the encroaching darkness and fight for their small corner of light in the world.