Quote of the Week – J. R. R. Tolkien

not all those who wander are lost

This week, our quote is by the genius mind behind The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings: J. R. R. Tolkien. Carrying on from last week, we’re trying to find quotes that seem like epiphanies. Sudden realisations of great truth. A good quote can shake your foundations; really get inside your head and affect the way you are. Enjoy it.


All that is gold does not glitter; not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither; deep roots are not reached by the frost.

– J. R. R. Tolkien

This quote is taken from chapter 10 of the first volume of The Lord of the Rings. Although it is just a snippet, its has 4 huge lessons.


1. “All that is gold does not glitter”

This first section is a rearranged version of Shakespeare’s proverb from The Merchant of Venice: “all that glitters is not gold”. I believe it is implying that the ‘Gold’ (good things) are not always obvious to the eye; perhaps they’re disguised. A potential example of this could be the idea that like our muscles, we can grow through pain, or maybe a situation that felt negative at the time, actually lead to something even better that would not have been possible without it.

2. “Not all those who wander are lost”

not all those who wander are lost

This one you’ve probably heard a lot. Its become the traveller’s favourite. Obviously, people who

use it when they’re spending three weeks abroad sightseeing in tourist traps aren’t quite understanding it, but we’ll let them off. It’s nice to feel a part of something.

In terms of The Renegades, this hits home. We’re doing a whole load of wandering; that’s kinda the point behind us. Are we lost? No, obviously. We know though exploring the world you can find huge amounts of meaning and purpose. You learn and challenge and grow. You experience a different day every day rather than the same one; over and over. Maybe then, the ‘lost wanderers’ of today are not the ones who walk the earth in search of meaning. Maybe the ‘lost’ of our society are the ones who do not. What if the ‘lost’ of today, are not lost, but trapped.


3. “The old that is strong does not wither”

Age is a myth; my brother Ted’s favourite saying. I tend to agree. Take for example, the 90-year-old vegan yoga teacher who looks about 40. This man is a perfect example of something old but strong that does not wither. Our life force grows as we grow. If you treat you vessel (body) like sh*t; eating unhealthy food, not exercising, not sleeping enough, you will be weak, and your body will wither. Same as if you don’t take care of your mind; thinking negatively, no new learning, lack of purpose, your body and life force will react similarly.

Cultivate a strong mind and a strong body, then even in old age you will not wither.


4. “Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”

This one was a little more tricky. What do the roots represent, what does the frost signify; many ideas can be taken from this section. Because of this, I did a bit of digging and reading and consequently, came up with this:

I’ll start with the frost. It signifies negative influences on our lives; the distractions, the over – sexualisation of everything, the desire to escape a banal life through getting f*cked up. It is the devil meeting Jesus on the mountain, tempting him. (This example is purely metaphorical – I do not associate with any religion, nor believe in any god.)

The deep roots represent our will power; our strength of character; our ability to fight for what we believe. The roots are what prevent us from acting on the temptation to take the easy road, and hold our own under negative outside influences.

We need to be careful with this however. By sticking to your guns 100%, you may pass by a chance to grow and change for the good. Keep your eyes open, and analyse the potential of every situation to see what good could come of it. Never stop growing.

Cheers to J. R. R. Tolkien for that juicy bit of insight.


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