“What do you fear, lady?” he [Aragorn] asked.
“A cage,” she [Éowyn] said. “To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire. …Yet I do not bid you flee from peril, but to ride to battle where your sword may win renown and victory. I would not see a thing that is high and excellent cast away needlessly.”
Like any good fantasy writer, I’m fond of Tolkien’s work, and during the Christmas/New Year’s holiday, I was having a Lord of the Rings moment. (Quick confession—at the time of this writing, I have not yet seen The Hobbit. I know, absolutely shameful).
So since I wasn’t spending money at the theater to see the newest film, I decided to re-watch The Two Towers (because nothing says “Christmas holiday” like orcs storming Helm’s Deep, right?)
The scene I quoted above is from the book of The Return of the King, although it was put into the film of The Two Towers. It works well either place, I think. Éowyn’s words ring true, for all of us here in the real world.
Usually the bars in our lives are self-inflicted, or at least are under our control to one degree or another. Fear of taking that risk that would have outstanding rewards if you succeeded? Fear of the unknown? Shame from having made that resolution last January that you gave up on by February? Weariness from being so busy doing what everyone else says you should do instead of pursuing that dream that’s buried inside?
Remove the bars before your regrets outweigh your desires. As Éowyn says, don’t run away from challenges, but ride into battle—not taking stupid risks or being careless, but go towards that thing that’s holding you back. Your sword—your effort and determination—can win you renown and victory, or whatever you desire.
Every person is uniquely created, “a thing that is high and excellent.” Don’t cast yourself and your potential away needlessly. There is someone somewhere who is waiting for you to accomplish that task or make that change or go after that dream.
Let’s make this a year of no regrets. Remove the bars in your life and live uncaged!