I first watched The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit trilogies in the winter of 2015, and since then, I’ve watched them at least once a year. I never get tired of it. The characters, the setting, the story—it’s all so perfect. But I’ve always wondered how Gandalf, the old wizard, handles all those life-threatening, utterly terrifying, and dark situations with such grace.
How is he able to be so wise in the face of adversity? How can he still have the courage to show humor even when faced with certain death? And how can he be so forgiving even when dwarves are being headstrong and frustrated with him while he is actually the one who is trying to help them?!
Gandalf Saves the Day
As mentioned in the book, when the orcs are chasing the dwarves and Bilbo, and Gandalf are trying to get away. As they’re running, one of the dwarves, Bombur, falls into a deep sleep and starts to snore. Gandalf looks back and sees the orcs getting closer and closer. So what does he do? He carries Bombur on his back and keeps running! And when the orcs finally catch up to them, Gandalf uses his magic to create a giant fireworks display that distracts the orcs long enough for them to escape.
Or when Gandalf takes The Company of Thorin Oakenshield to the Elvish Lord, Elrond, to ask for his help in their quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain – the dwarves suspect Gandalf is selling them out and refuse to enter Rivendell. Gandalf, instead of getting angry or frustrated, firmly but calmly tries to convince the dwarves to change their minds and tells them they don’t have any other option. And sure enough, the stubborn dwarves pay heed to their wizard friend and reluctantly go into Elrond’s kingdom.
Funny enough, even though they’re about to go on a seemingly suicidal mission, Gandalf still takes the time to sit down and enjoy a nice meal with his Elvish friends with beautiful live background music being played and says that he’s not appropriately dressed for the occasion – he sure knows how to live in the moment!
Also, I think Gandalf had come to know that Bilbo had found something in the trolls’ cave – the One Ring. But he never said anything about it to anyone, not even to Bilbo himself. He probably knew that if he had said anything, it would’ve put Bilbo in danger. But he also knew that Bilbo would have to find out on his own and come to terms with what the Ring really is.
But How Does Gandalf Do That?
I think the answer to the question I often ask myself, how come Gandalf is always so composed and graceful, even in the oddest of situations, can be found in two words: experience and humility.
Gandalf has lived for centuries, and in that time, he’s made friends and foes, seen the rise and fall of kingdoms, and learned a lot about individuals, their egos, passions, emotions, and what really motivates them. He’s also experienced firsthand the consequences of power, greed, and hate. So when he looks at a situation, he’s not just seeing what’s happening in front of him – he sees the past, present, and future all at once. He knows what actions will lead to what results. That’s why he’s always able to stay one step ahead of everyone else.
But experience alone doesn’t make someone wise. Gandalf is also humble. He knows that he’s not perfect and that he doesn’t know everything. That is why when Frodo mentions why Bilbo didn’t kill Gollum, Gandalf says:
“Many that live, deserve death. Some that die, deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends.”
Gandalf is always willing to listen to others and take their advice. He knows that he can’t do everything on his own and that he needs the help of others. That’s why he’s able to form such strong relationships – he values the input of others.
He is always able to find the silver lining in every situation, and that’s one of the things I admire most about him. Even in the darkest of times, he never loses hope and always believes that things will get better. Do the situations turn out as good as he hoped? No! But his optimism is infectious, and it gives others the strength to carry on.
Gandalf is always able to see the bigger picture, and he knows that there’s always more to a situation than meets the eye. He’s also not afraid to make the tough calls, even if it means going against what others want. He knows that sometimes the only way to achieve the greater good is to do things that might not be popular.
Gandalf Taught Me This
What I think we can learn from Gandalf is always to stay calm and collected, to be willing to listen to others, and to have faith that things will eventually get better. We can also learn to appreciate the little things in life and to find joy in the simple things. And finally, we should always be looking for the silver lining because it’s always there – we just have to find it.
One of the most beautiful lines Tolkein ever wrote for Gandalf, I believe, is this:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
So next time you find yourself in a difficult or stressful situation, just remember to take a deep breath and have faith that things will eventually get better. And as Gandalf would say:
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
I leave you with Gandalf meeting Lady Galadriel. The scenes in the short video have another great quote:
“I have found that it’s the small things, simple acts of kindness and love, that keep the darkness at bay.”