While setting up my life in Portland, I spent a lot of time on the bus between Seattle and Portland – during that time I watched The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in bits and pieces, and I have thought a lot about what the story tells us one needs to go on an adventure. As someone who as an undergrad degree in English, society often says I picked one of the most useless and irrelevant degrees anyone could possibly have. While Bilbo Baggins was not university educated, I think he proves this wrong.
All Bilbo has done for years is sit and read books and live his comfortable Hobbit life. But sitting and reading books has given him a broader base of skills and knowledge. He has read stories and myths and understand how and what makes people (I say people, but broadly mean, you know, hobbits and elves and dwarves and so on) tick. Because he has read his books and knows them, he can read people and see their true motives and intentions. He knows how to use information to his advantage.
He never would have gone on an adventure if he had not said yes. The predicament with the trolls would not have happened if he had not said yes. His choices changed not just his life, but hundreds of those around him. While being cautious and saying “no” is good sometimes, often, all we need to do is say “yes,” and open the door to the world around us.
This is a combination of the first two items. Bilbo got the dwarves out of being troll breakfast by being creative – he made the trolls thing he was helping them when he really was not. He saved Thorin’s life by jumping the orc who was about to kill him. These in-the-moment instincts come from knowing when and how to act. Sure, this is a skill that you can learn from experience, but the courage can come from having a broad range of knowledge.
So go forth and adventure!