At the start of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Fellowship of the Ring”, the character Bilbo Baggins celebrates his 111th birthday. An impressive feat by anyone’s counting. Toward the end of his party, Bilbo stands in front of those gathered and says these words in his farewell speech.
“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.”
What did he mean? It’s a difficult turn of phrase which left his guests wondering if they had been insulted or complimented. In essence he was saying, I would really like to know many of you much better than I do, and I should like many of you better than I have.
As he is about to depart and prepared to leave everything he owns behind, he is perhaps considering what in life really matters. His conclusion. I should have invested in more of you. Spent time with more of you. Got to know many of you better than I have.
It is a common thought that is expressed at the end of a life. A recognition that what really matters is people.
When you think about it, this is one of those life goals which could so easily have been achieved. There are goals like summiting Mount Everest, owning a multimillion dollar property portfolio or becoming the CEO of a fortune 500 company that may be elusive or impossible for many of us to achieve. To invest in relationships with others is not one of those.
Invite someone out for lunch today. Ask about their week or interests. Organise a games night or organise a catch up over coffee. Take some simple steps so that unlike Bilbo’s farewell speech, you can look back at the relational choices you have made with delight, not regret.