Sunday, 1 June 2014

Values of Difficult Relations

"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve."
J.R.R. Tolkien (The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1))

After my last post I figured I should do a more standard quote-based post. It's one of my favourites (though who am I kidding, if it's got JRR Tolkien's name attached I'm going to like it). This one is especially perfect though because it runs a balance between a perfect compliment and a sneaky insult.

Try it on people. It's a laugh. Truly. 

That said, I'm going to take this post to both unpack the multiple meanings in this oft befuddling quote (remember the looks of the poor hobbits in the movie?). 

The best sort of friends use broken sunglasses to make cyclop guards for your sandcastles.
"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like" is the easy bit to the quote as it implies Bilbo would like to get to know more of the hobbits in the Shire because he believes they are all worth knowing. Simple.

However it goes a step further. Due to the implication that half of the hobbits there are worth getting to know better, we can take it to imply that most people we know will reveal hidden gems to us as we get to know them better. Perhaps it is a hidden talent, a perspective or a common experience, at least half the people you meet in your life will be worth getting to know better. They will teach you something.

"I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve" is a little trickier as it can be disguised as a bit of an insult to the other half of the hobbits.

However it too goes a step further. In all actuality it doesn't reveal that half of the hobbits present at the party are not worth knowing, but rather that Bilbo is acknowledging he has a personal shortcoming in that he doesn't like half of them as much as they deserve to be liked. As with the first half, this second half is also implying that all the hobbits there are worth knowing, it's just that Bilbo cannot quite make himself come to like one half of the lot as much as they deserve to be known and liked.

That's rather true of life for us humans too. We all have people we dislike, or at the very least, little habits and triggers that others do which bother us. Nonetheless, it is important we all move beyond that and recognize everyone deserves to be liked. Maybe you are not full on friends with them. Maybe you were friends with them and it fell through. Maybe you never will be able to friends. But at the very least, find something about them which is admirable. Find something about them you could learn from.

Also, and most importantly, recognize your own faults. What triggers and habits bother you? Do you dislike people who show-off? Do you find laziness irritating?

Now ask yourself why that is. More often then not, the things that irritate you, irritate you because they trigger feelings of doubt within you. Perhaps you feel unworthy, or you work and work and work but no one ever recognizes your effort?

Scratch it. Tough, I know. But worth it. Yes, it is important to surround yourself with people who allow you to be honest to your identity but it is also important to learn from others who trigger insecurities and other such negative thoughts of your identity and skills.

Not only do they help you become aware of those insecurities so you can work them through and finished, but getting to know people who bother you might just give you a new perspective to observe the world from.

Am I the only one who is curious about the inner lives of the silverware stealing Sackville-Bagginses related to Bilbo?

Maybe. But regardless, take a moment now to think of someone who you dislike, or at the very least, has a habit which bothers you. Think about why. Think about their life. What is their perspective?

Respect. Live and let live. Learn.

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