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A story of hope


A story of hope

I’m a bit of a Lord of the Rings fan.  We do The Hobbit Feasts in the office each year, I keep LOTR the toys in my office, t-shirts, etc. Well, this past weekend my two daughters wanted to do a Hobbit Feast and watch all three movies (back to back).  I talked them into watching the theatrical versions (instead of the extended versions – whew…)

As we watched them for the 100th time and ate like hobbits most of the day – I was reminded of why I love these movies so very much. If I strip away the details, Lord of the Rings is a story of overcoming the impossible. It is a story of being in a horrible situation and somehow finding a way to make it through it. It is a story of hope.  It is a story of determination.It is a story of deciding to make the best of a really bad situation… and making the best of it.

6 hours in…  As we made it to the end of the second movie, there was a scene that left us all speechless. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as we all just looked at one another.  It was just too much like what is going on in the world right now – it really hit us emotionally. The main character, Frodo Baggins, had lost all hope.  He was willing to give up.  Things were just too bad to go on. He looked to his best friend, Sam and said, “I can’t do this, Sam.”

Sam, looking at Frodo and knowing how important it was to find a way to get through this, said:

“I know.  It’s all wrong.  By rights we shouldn’t even be here.  But we are.  It’s like the great stories, Mr. Frodo.  The ones that really mattered.  Full of darkness and danger they were.  And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end.  Because how could the end be happy?  How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?  But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow.  Even darkness must pass.  A new day will come.  And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.  Those were the stories that stayed with you.  That meant something.  Even if you were too small to understand why.  But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand.  Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t.  Because they were holding on to something.”

Frodo:  “What are we holding on to, Sam?”

Sam:  That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo.  And it’s worth fighting for.”

We just sort of looked around at each other (through tearful eyes) after Sam delivered this speech.  With everything going on right now in the world, I think we all needed that talk from Sam.  That reminder that this is a passing thing.  That this, too, shall pass.  That there are brighter days ahead.  And, maybe most importantly – that there is good in this world and it is worth fighting for…  my daughter squeezed my hand in understanding. 

With everything going on in the world right now – the “normal” things can feel like a fight – a struggle to get done.   Whether it is fighting to continue learning and doing school from home.  Fighting to cook at home.  Fighting to get basic necessities for your home.  Work wise, it is fighting to continue doing your job in less than ideal situations.  Fighting to review an exemption certificate despite distractions.  Fighting to finish a project on time using a home office set up that is less than ideal.  Fighting to find and update a law.  Fighting to fix a computer issue to help get things working again.  Fighting to keep tax rates up to date.  Fighting to get a refund for a client.  Fighting to get someone on the phone.  Fighting to find a way to smile or laugh.  Fighting to help a client.  Fighting to improve people’s lives even when the hope we are clinging onto feels hard…

There is good in this world.  There are good people out there that need us and they are worth fighting for. And even if you aren’t on the front lines of fighting for big issues that are going on today, as my CFO, Yao once said, one day people will look back and remember all we did for one another and for them.  Our clients will remember how brave we were, despite all that was going on – that we fought to help them.

Just like in Lord of the Rings…  At the end of the second movie – Sam asks about whether they will be remembered. He says, “I wonder if people will ever say, ‘Let’s hear about Frodo and the Ring.’  And they’ll say ‘Yes, that’s one of my favorite stories.’  ‘Frodo was really courageous, wasn’t he, Dad?’  ‘Yes, my boy, the most famousest of hobbits.  And that’s saying a lot.’” Frodo replies, “You’ve left out of one of the chief characters – Samwise the Brave.  I want to hear more about Sam.  Frodo wouldn’t have got far without Sam.” Sam looks at Frodo and says, “Now Mr. Frodo, you shouldn’t make fun.  I was being serious.” Frodo replies, “So was I.”

There are people out there right now – who would tell you – they wouldn’t have gotten very far without you.  Every client you help, every colleague you help, every act of good work that you do, is a story of how you fought to help them despite all that is going on in the world right now.  That might sound grandiose. But it’s true.

I don’t think Peter Jackson (Director of Lord of the Rings) will call us for movie rights to tell our story.  But it is a story that will be told for years to come.  How we came together and continued to improve people’s lives during dark times.  How we stayed focused on the positive and made the best of a terrible situation.  How we found a way to fight for those we work with and those we work for. 

No – we don’t use swords or magic.  Instead, we use keyboards and a mouse, a phone and the internet.  We don’t take long walks across the wilderness.  Instead, we journey digitally and mentally to succeed in our quest. But… Our story is being written.  Day by day.  It is a story our clients, colleagues, bosses and friends already talk about.  No, they don’t call us hobbits.  Instead, they call us “a lifesaver” “a relief” “someone always there for them” “a stress reliever” – even “a good friend.”  

They know we are here fighting for them – every day – and their lives are improved for it. You are writing your story each day with your actions.  It will be remembered for years to come.  Continue to make it great. 

Let’s go improve lives this week!