The first time I read Lord of the Rings was the first time I cried during a book. I still cry when I watch the films, and my heart’s desire in this world is to live in a hobbit hole. In fact, let me just be a hobbit and let me go on one big adventure with dwarves and wizards. I’ll be the happiest hobbit you ever saw.
That said, J.R.R. Tolkien’s creation has influenced me in more ways than one.
Now before I get too sappy here, let’s realistically look at the general characteristics of what makes a good friend (just bear with me a sec). Loyalty? Honesty? Trustworthiness? Someone who finishes your sentences? The initiative to bring ice cream over when I’m crying over the latest book I’ve read?
Here’s my opinion in a nutshell. The definition of a friend (I mean the ULTIMATE friend) is someone who has enough loving backbone to lay down their own life for someone they care about.
Enter Samwise Gamgee.
(Raise your hand if you saw that coming.)
“I can’t carry it for you…but I can carry you!”
These are the resonant words of the humble Sam as he hoists his dear friend Frodo (with his heavy, evil burden) onto his back and proceeds to carry him into the what appears to be the pit of hellfire and virtually no hope of a return home.
Let’s think about this for a second. Picture yourself with your most bestest friend ever. You guys are really tight. He (or she) has been under a lot of pressure lately, and when he’s not snippy with you, he’s got a strange dazed look in his eyes, like he doesn’t even remember you’re there. It seems he’s forgotten that you’ve come JUST as long a way and been JUST as scared and had to fight JUST as many stinky orcs…er…whatever…as he has. Anyway, he’s been kind of a jerk to you and now has this new friend that’s a pretty shady character. It’s almost like he’s ignoring you at this point and is making some really crappy decisions that you know are going to get him in big trouble. Eventually, he tells you that you suck and he doesn’t want to be your friend anymore. “Go home” he says.
Now, be honest and picture how long you’d stick with that friend.
“Jeez…don’t be a Frodo,” said my husband one day as we sat on the couch and watched Frodo and Sam’s descent into Mordor.
“…What?” I said.
“Don’t be a Frodo. I mean, look at him! The lack of willpower! The guy is giving up already! And he’s being all mean to Sam!”
I, being the LOTR nerd and former Elijah Wood fangirl that I am, explained that Frodo is, in fact, carrying the One Ring of Power. The closer he comes to the lair of Sauron, the weaker and more susceptible to evil he becomes. “He’s not himself,” I defended,“ and I’d like to see YOU walk into the lair of Sauron with the Ring to rule them all and see how far YOU get!”
“Ok ok, but I’m just saying… he wouldn’t have gotten far without Sam. I mean, that’s a friend with willpower. ”
Well, I admit that Frodo will always have a special place in my heart, but my husband is right. Frodo wouldn’t have made it far without Samwise Gamgee (and even Frodo admits it). And I don’t know about you, but LOTR has probably redefined my perception of friendship more than almost any other story.
So don’t be a Frodo, my friends. Be a Sam. And if you are a Frodo going through some tough times these days, make sure to give your Sam a oliphaunt-sized hug.