Despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not.

northern lights

Veil of light

Despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not. It is wisdom to recognize necessity, when all other courses have been weighed, though as folly it may appear to those who cling to false hope. Well, let folly be our cloak, a veil before the eyes of the Enemy! For he is very wise, and weighs all things to a nicety in the scales of his malice. But the only measure he knows is desire, desire for power; and so he judges all hearts. Into his heart the thought will not enter that any will refuse it, that having the Ring we may seek to destroy it. If we seek this, we shall put him out of reckoning.


by J. R. R. Tolkien (3 January 1892 ā€“ 2 September 1973)
from The Fellowship of the Ring (21 July 1954)
The council of Elrond
image – Image Editor

Point of View

I like this quote because it tickles my sense of balance. Does “Despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt,” have an opposite that makes sense?

All-or-nothing thinking is not logical. We know this instinctively, unless we’re under the influence of despair. With despair, everything is tainted. Despair is an evenhanded destroyer. Unlike hope, despair numbs us to all but itself.

Hope is messy, disorderly, and it lies: hope is not all we need. The poor who are starving and have love are not better off than the rich who are not starving and do not understand love. I’m sure you have your own examples. Wishing, faith and positive visualization won’t make the good thing so: you have to get in there and work at it. Unlike faith, hope cannot afford to be unwavering – some of those trembles tell us where to find our deepest cares, where to get in there and do the work, where despair is so obviously impractical.

Here’s a paradox for you. Though despair can seep into any crack and seem like it’s everywhere, hope only needs one isolated pinpoint of possibility to become the light at the end of the tunnel. After seeing that light, reality hasn’t changed, but the point of view has become infinitely more practical.

Hope is practical.

| More

6 Responses to “Despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not.”

  1. clarissa mcfairy Says:

    Elizabeth, I find so much in YOUR point of view here. Even more even than in the quotation. I especially love the paradox. But I would like to see your name appended to it. I am not happy that it should be assumed, or that you should be so unassuming. This is a pearl worthy of the oyster’s name. I cannot clam up about this one!

  2. E. A. Able Says:

    Awwww shucks, Clarissa. šŸ™‚

    Someone recently asked if I’m working on a book. I would like to be asked again in a year – LOL. Right now I’m building my voice, and an inventory of content for this site.

    The discipline of doing this every day is forcing me to grow. It’s a lot of work, but I love it.

  3. Karen Swim Says:

    Elizabeth, I must agree with Clarissa your point of view was profound and beautifully stated. I believe you are not building your voice, for it is sure and strong but perhaps building those writing muscles that enable you to share it consistently. šŸ™‚

  4. winnie Says:

    So do you think in your opinion, we should stop hoping in life? Cause it seems that is all I do. Nice post

  5. E. A. Able Says:

    Hope can be a pain in the bazoo when I don’t feel good, but without it I’d be in deep doo doo!

  6. gzairborne Says:

    a small bit of light illuminates a great deal of darkness. light follows darkness since the big inning of time… day follows night.
    I loved this quote and the way Tolkien writes.
    Despair is for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not.
    To put it another way. Despair is for those who trust that the outcome will be dismal. That there is no hope. We say that there is.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

ļ»æ