The Greater Side of Me

Who was the hero in The Lord of the Rings? Each character had his or her merits, but who was the real hero? Frodo? Sam? Aragorn? Gollum? Let's consider each one:
  • Sam - He's the anchor, the stalwart, the unwavering companion who keeps Frodo on the right path. He overcomes his insecurities to find in himself a courage rare among the simple Hobbit people. One could argue that he is the reason the quest succeeded by helping Frodo make it all the way to Mount Doom. As Frodo said, "Frodo wouldn't have got far without Sam."
  • Frodo - Clearly a main protagonist, he's the one who manages to take the ring from the Shire to Rivendell through Moria across the Dead Marshes up the Winding Stair through Cirith Ungol across the Plains of Gorgoroth up the slopes of Mount Doom, all while resisting the powerful temptation to claim the ring for himself. You try doing that. There would have been no happy ending without Frodo.
  • Aragorn - The poster boy for reluctant kings who end up kicking a whole boat-load (literally) of bad guys, there's no way you can count this guy out as a hero. Slicing and dicing his way through hordes of filthy orcses, he keeps the Eye fixed on other things to allow Frodo to do his ring thing. Take him out of the equation, you might as well start handing out "Sauron is King" T-shirts.
  • Gollum - Wait....him? Yes, he deserves consideration for the simple fact that without Gollum, the ring would not have been destroyed. Yes, without Gollum, a lot of headache would have been avoided, but it is a direct result of Gollum's annoying inability to die that the ring takes a proverbial nose dive into a river of destructive magma.
So what's the answer? Who's the ultimate hero of the greatest fantasy saga ever created? I submit the answer is complex, and in many ways allegorical to our own lives.

Each of the aforementioned heroes can be connected to an aspect of our personalities. More specifically, each relates to part of our overall aspirations in life, both the good and bad sides.
  • Sam represents both the friend we all want to have and the friend we all want to be. I dare say each of us hopes to be able to be that voice of reason, that push toward greatness, that rock to lean on when adverse winds blow. We also want to have someone like that for those times when we ourselves waver (Tamara is that rock for me).
  • Frodo is the part of us that has good intentions, but ultimately fails. He is the realistic hero, the one we so often find ourselves relating to. If he had tried to do it alone, as he planned when the Fellowship broke, there would have been no victory.
  • Aragorn is the hero, the golden knight, that we all hope we can become. Short of some self-doubt, he has no failings. He always has a plan, always knows what to do, always comes through and saves the day, even if he came in at the last second. His faults are few and his failings dimmed into near oblivion by the awesomeness of his awesomeness.
  • Gollum represents the worst of us, the dark side we all have but don't want to acknowledge, the 'natural man' if you will. Gollum is a creature controlled by his basest desires, pushed into evil and wicked deeds by his addiction to something that, whether he knows it or not, will ultimately destroy him one way or another.
*Cue not-so-smooth transition*

There's a song that I could listen to over and over and over again and still be in awe (and I have on occasion: on a prep day in Russia, my companion and I spent a good hour and a half studying and listening to this song on repeat). Sadly, I know neither the name of the song nor the name of the singer. I do know she is a friend of the same mission companion, and I believe she wrote the song as well. For the sake of this entry, we shall call the song "The Greater Side of Me" (taken from the last line of the chorus):

Whispers within my heart in quiet moments found,
Familiar solace calls to me when no one is around.
Questions, seeking answers, long for something more.
Tell my of Thy love for me and who I was before.

Show me who I was, so I'll know who I am today.
Whisper to my heart the truths I long to hear.
Speak to me, my Father, let me know my heart.
Lift my eyes that I may see the greater side of me.

Help me see through thine eyes the spirit that I was
(Help me see)
Standing by my Savior as I fought the battle won
(I may be always true to thee)
Help me to remember that someday I may be
(Lord, let me know and I'll believe)
The person that Thou knew me as, Lord help me to see.

Show me who I was, so I'll know who I am today.
Whisper to my heart the truths I long to hear.
Speak to me, my Father, let me know my heart.
Lift my eyes that I may see the greater side of me.

Speak to me, my Father, let me know my heart.
Lift my eyes that I may see the greater side of me
(I believe)
Bless my life as I live to be
The greater side of me.

The song itself is a masterpiece- the music is beautiful and the singer's voice sublime. But the meaning is something I found myself thinking about a lot in recent days. What is my greater side? What is my potential? How can I find and transform it into the kinetic energy I want it to be? There are so many things I am, so many things I want to be, and so many things I don't want to be.

My inner Aragorn is a morally immovable object and spiritually unstoppable force. He is led by personal inspiration, earned by diligent study and constant communion with his Father. He takes that inspiration and uses it to lead his family like a true priesthood holder should. He doesn't waver in the face of responsibility because he's lazy, or tired, or doubtful; rather, he casts those aside, looks his challenges in the eye and charges forward, sword in hand and valor in heart.

Then there's my inner Frodo, always getting into messes, climbing out of which take an inner Aragorn and more. He has noble intentions- to live righteously, to do all the things he needs to- but he's weak. He's insecure, he's doubtful, he only takes steps forward when he's prompted to. He'd rather be sitting at home, sitting in a mental hobbit-hole with good food and familiar comforts.

My inner Gollum manifests himself as the deadly sins of sloth and gluttony and wrath. He doesn't want to go to church because he'll get bored, or he doesn't want to work because it means he can't do something more fun. He eats far too much that is bad for him- fish, raw and wriggling- and not enough that is good for him- nice, golden taters. He is quick to yell at others over things for which they are rarely responsible; he won't own up to the fact that he is the one at fault. He can be chased away and will seemingly disappear for a time, but in fact he's always there, sneaking and slinking in the shadows, ready to turn up at the worst possible moment.

Inner Sam- I'm not too worried about him. I try to be a good listener and I like to think I am willing to give a person the support he or she needs. I hope I can be the kind of person to carry another up a mountain if their burden grows too heavy.

So what, then? How does one go about sifting through these inner qualities, letting the heavy and burdensome ones sink to the bottom while the others rise to the top? What can one hope to do when there is no motivation? Where does one find an impetus to change? How can one become his or her greater side?


Well put and I believe it reflects all of us. I think we might all have those facets to our personalities. Recognizing them is a good first step. And, remember, Gollum was the only one who didn't survive...

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