One of the things that I love about Lord of the Rings is the truth that the characters live out. Merry feels useless but slays the King of the Black Riders. Boromir feels powerful but falls to the temptation of the Ring.
How true to life they are. Those feeling weak and insignificant are often the ones who do great things simply because of their faithfulness, and those who see themselves as great often stumble over their own reach for greater glory.
Of all the characters that offer up truth in Tolkien’s epic fantasy, Samwise Gamgee, companion to the Ringbearer, might be the best. First, he is faithful. He is devoted to his master and willing to go where otherwise he would not dare to set foot.
Second, he recognizes his own propensity to get things wrong. Such awareness of his own weaknesses keeps him from stubbornly continuing in the wrong direction. He’s quick and willing to make corrections.
Third, he refuses to let the darkness squelch his love for light, and consequently, even when he doesn’t feel hopeful, he acts as if there is hope. When he cannot see his way, he remembers the Shire, his garden, the elves, the lady of Lorien, grass and growing things, stars, and light. His mind dwells on the pure, lovely, honorable, and right even when all around is evil, cruelty, hatred, violence, and death.
There’s more Sam Gamgee wisdom, but those are three pretty good traits to learn from and hang onto in 2013.