Lessons from “The Lord of the Rings” during COVID-19 lockdowns

It’s undeniable that people’s mental health has suffered as a result of COVID-19. It’s easy to get scared, or angry, about what’s been going on in the world for the past several years.

The fear of death has been the focal point for some folks, while others have been resentful about their lack of social life at the moment. Throw in frustration against those who won’t get the vaccine and resentment against those pushing covid restrictions, and we have a perfect storm for widespread neurosis and suffering.

To be honest, I found myself getting angry and feeling hopeless,  emotions I’m sure many can relate to. It reminded me of a scene in Lord of the Rings. I feel that we’ve been like Frodo recently, carrying a burden that is too much to bear. And like Frodo, we whine and protest, “I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.”

Gandalf responds, “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

Has COVID-19 ruined your life and messed up a bunch of things you cared about? Has the government done something stupid to make things worse?

Tragedy and incompetence are the stories of human history. So what are you gonna do about it? Are you going to whine that you wish there wasn’t a global pandemic happening? I’m sure that helped the people living during the Bubonic plague. Are you going to complain about the government and wish that if only they did something different then things would be better? I’m sure complaining helped the people who lost their homes during the Great Recession and other periods of poor fiscal oversight. So keep going, tell me how you wish this had never happened.

How much do you think that’ll improve your current situation? No one who lived in times of tragedy wished for it. But we don’t get to choose what time we’re born in, nor do we blow the winds of fate. Don’t complain that you wish this hadn’t happened. The real thing to ask is how you’re going to respond to these circumstances. How are you going to make the best out of it? We’re not able to change the wind, but we can adjust our sails.

The government won’t magically make things better. Neither will a vaccine. But you can. Because we all share a responsibility in keeping our society together regardless of how bleak the circumstances may seem.

Another insight from  Gandalf,

“Some believe that it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.”

So let’s just keep focusing on the important things. Like our family, friends, and community. Genuine human connection and our relationships with others. Perhaps some hobbies or activities you’ve been trying and shows you’re watching. Maybe a book you’re reading or something you’re excited to do over the next few weeks. Something you wanted to learn or get better at. Things will eventually work themselves out and we’ll go back to normal.

We didn’t choose this pandemic, but we can choose the people we become in spite of it.

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