A Different Story

What would have happened if Gandalf had accepted Frodo’s offer of the One Ring?

Gandalf freezes, the shadow of the ring draws his hand nearer; and as the fire skips a beat, the ring falls into Gandalf’s pocket. “I shall keep the ring safe and unused. However if there is just cause to use it, I shall become the guarantor of peace”, announces Gandalf solemnly.

As night draws in, Gandalf looks back over the hills at the tiny flickering lights of the Shire. The Wizard whispers to himself: “There is much to do. Much to do.” He notices the weight of his robes and the precious Ring within.

Gandalf wanders, ruminating intensely upon the weaknesses of Elves and Men. He reasons that Elves are incapable of comprehending the true power of the Ring, and would foolishly wish to destroy the golden future of Middle-earth. He knows that mere Men are too easily corrupted by its power. Gandalf is absolutely resolved: he must keep the Master Ring his own secret, at all costs.

Gandalf sits on the crest of Weathertop. The days pass, the rain falls but Gandalf does not notice; he is lost in matters of deepest consequence. Then out of every corner of the darkness come the cries of The Nine: “The Ring. The Ring!”. Gandalf raises his staff and proclaims: “I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the Flame of Anor, your master, the Lord of the Ring!”. “The Ring. The Ring!”, chant The Nine. As the Ring slides onto Gandalf’s finger, the sky erupts with lightning. “I am the bringer of light”, exclaims Gandalf in triumph.

Gandalf of Many Colours imprisons Saruman the Traitor and unifies Elves and Men against Sauron, destroying the Dark Lord and his Dark Tower of Mordor. Much rejoicing is had by all. Gandalf announces that there is much more to do – to the consternation of Aragorn, who is executed for treason; with all his followers, kinsfolk and other suspected spies of Elrond.

Gandalf later wears an imperial gown of black and proclaims himself the Lord High God of all Middle-earth. He anoints his Ringwraiths Lords of Middle-earth, as a temporary edict to ensure order while the new Great Age of Wisdom is being forged. He puts his vast prison camps of heretics and traitors to work, building a bigger more magnificent tower on the ruins of the Dark Tower, called The Great Tower of Unity – as a example of beauty and perfection to all. Gandalf sits at the top of the tower in his golden throne room and ever-watches, ensuring his subjects are forever obeying his great will.

Gandalf is regularly overcome with anger at the disloyalty and ingratitude of his subjects, which necessitates public demonstrations of his great power, much to the amusement of the Uruk-hai. Transgressors of the laws of Gandalf are sent to Mordor to learn more of The Way of Gandalf – they are not seen again.

One day, as the Lord High God of all Middle-earth is amusing himself with the antics of his Hobbit court jesters, he sips from a chalice of poisoned wine carefully prepared by his servant Grima Wormtongue; he takes his last gasp as the Ring slips from his withered finger on to the finger of his murderer. The Great Tower of Unity is renamed The Dark Tower.

But Gandalf had foreseen and refused this fate, placing his hope instead on the unnoticed deeds of Hobbits. “Will you not take the Ring?”, says Frodo. “No!” cried Gandalf, springing to his feet. “With that power I should have power too great and terrible. And over me the Ring would gain a power still greater and more deadly.” His eyes flashed and his face was lit as by a fire within. “Do not tempt me! For I do not wish to become like the Dark Lord himself. Yet the way of the Ring to my heart is by pity, pity for weakness and the desire of strength to do good. Do not tempt me!”

Speed Barriers

Galaxies are micro specks in the universe, yet the nearest galaxy to Earth is tens of thousands of light years away. This should make the ego feel silly, and the heart in awe at the unimaginable immensity of it all.

There are five stages in the human expansion story:

Intercontinental;

Interplanetary;

Interstellar;

Intergalactic;

Interuniversal?

Physically visiting a planet at the intergalactic stage might be entirely irrelevant to any intelligent species that evolves to such a level to circumvent the speed of light – they may discover something fundamental to the nature of the universe that is completely incomprehensible to us, in our rudimentary stage of development.

Causality

Science fiction presents some baffling themes around causality; for example, the future is the past because events are synchronous in all places at the same time. The current everyday understanding of causality is equally bizarre, however, since a causal chain of events cannot lead back forever without having a prime initiating point that is outside of these rules.

Dawn

Dead shadows dance in the night

yearning for the dawn. 

Cold and forgotten walking scars,

drained by decay,

wasted by time,

stretch out,

hungered and blurred,

to a spark ignited,

climbing,

rising from the ground. 

From the dark depths,

rays of hope entwine in the sky,

kissing the hills;

breathing new life

and wonders layered in light. 

Naked with joy, a new day, a new world is born.

Perspective

The first stage of learning is being unconsciously incompetent: you don’t know what you’re not good at because you don’t know what you don’t know. Well-being skills can be learnt. One typical motif is that how you look at anything changes your experience; for example: anxiety can feel like pleasurable excitement, as the body in both mental modes vibrates in a similar state of high energy; or a difficult situation is your challenge to evolve and an opportunity for personal discovery; or peace of mind is your inner state of being, not the possession of external conditions. And so on, all empirically true but under-practiced.

Anger

Anger. What a silly thing.

Is it of any use? Nope, it unbalances you.

The Orcs in the Lord of the Rings are driven by fury and are utterly useless at combat.

Energy from anger is polluted, destructive, counter-productive.

It can be used to instil fear, to incite others and to self-aggrandise – which is why it has been the emotion of choice by demagogues and sociopaths.

It is often learned as the default response to any frustration.

There is often anger at other people for not behaving as it is believed they should.

The reality however is that you have no real idea what has and is happening in the other person’s life you are judging.

The fact is you only ever see a tiny aspect of all the moving parts.

Talkerism

In the world of work, a meeting without creating an output of value is a drain on energy and time. Incessant thinking is the perpetual meeting in the head – if it is just going over and over the same issues without providing constructive insight, then it is pointless at best, destructive at worst. Outside this room of perpetual thinking is the freedom to notice and enjoy what is happening, instead of what you are imagining.

Off and On

The old line with IT is that if you want a problem fixed “turn it off then on again”. The reason is that resetting can untangle mixed-up memory and processes.

The mind if not switched-off will often relentlessly loop on the same set of thoughts, gradually wearing you down, sometimes with its own errors and fictions.

There are exercises that help you apply the IT solution, and they’ve worked for thousands of years.

The Compassion Override

In history there are countless examples where twisted interpretations of beliefs lead to the justification, or even glorification, of murderous and sadistic tendencies. Such beliefs give a person an identity in opposition to and superiority over other people, who can be condemned and abused from a position of personal righteousness.

In a conscious state of love and kindness, the causing of suffering could not be enacted. True compassion always serves as a natural safety valve, for the question is always: are you alleviating suffering or causing it?

Journal 2020-10-30

Interesting to read that the Chief Economist of the Bank of England thinks creativity will be impaired if people do not work in an office. My prediction would be that creativity has more chance away from the noise and haste – based on the familiar theme that original thinkers, artists and spiritual figures often had some of their best insights in the wilderness, in periods of solitude, outside of bustling society.

The observation is that distance from the current melees gives a person a better perspective of the whole picture. More generally, insiders of the throng who are unaware of their predicament, are condemned to behave as they think they are supposed to, blind to anything more than the current array of behaviours, even in extreme cases where it is insane.