Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

I spend a lot of time reading people’s daily posts and thinking up ideas of my own, but I never usually attempt it for myself, mostly for the reason that the instructions say to get a badge for your site and I have no idea about widgets…

This one though, I couldn’t resist.

The quote ‘not all those who wander are lost’ is one I’ve kept with me for … well, I don’t know how many years. It comes from a poem written by J.R.R. Tolkein, in Lord Of The Rings:

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be King.

For anybody who knows the books or films, the poem is basically about the ranger Aragorn becoming the King of Gondor. Yet if I put the context of the books aside, I still love this poem. I think so much can be taken from it, and especially the line that I carry with me on a day to day basis.

Things are not always as they seem, is one of the things I get when I ask people about this quote. My parents actually told me that the first line is similar to something written by Shakespeare in the Merchant of Venice (I think), but I can’t actually say I’ve read it. Yet.

The main thing I get from ‘my’ quote, is the courage to stray from the traditional path, to be my own person, without consent from anybody else. Just because someone doesn’t exactly fit in, or do exactly what people expect of them, doesn’t mean that they are lost in the world.

I feel like I have done a lot of wandering in my life, I suppose initially the typical cliché of trying to ‘find myself’ and find the ‘meaning of life’. I’m not quite on this quest anymore, but I think this world has the potential to be absolutely fantastic if you put yourself out there. One of my oldest friends is very religious, and she always talks about ‘going after God’. I don’t share her views in general, but I like to think of ‘going after Life’.

Who cares if I stray from my path? Who cares if I wander? It is a choice, a choice to try and push myself and to see as much of the world as possible.

(This actually brings me to another quote, “unless a man undertakes more than he possibly can do, he will never do all that he can” – Drummond. But that is for another day!)

It took me three years to complete a section of my studies that took everybody else two. But do I regret it? No. I didn’t stay on the path, but I learned so much more from stepping off it.

If I were asked to draw a line to represent my path from life to death, I would draw a line that meanders greatly. Things may take me longer to reach, but I will know more of the world than people following this straight path.

Not all those who wander are lost. Wandering, for me, is a choice.



A few days before I left for Prague, I was booked in to have a tattoo done that I had been planning for ages. It was a beautiful design with a compass and this quote. As it happens, life got in the way and the artist was unable to make our appointment so I wasn’t able to have it done. For Christmas, my boyfriend bought me this beautiful pocket compass with my name engraved on one side and the quote on the other (apologies for the pictures, it is hard to take good pictures without the reflection of the camera in). I will now not only carry the line with me in my head everyday, but I will also carry this.

9 thoughts on “Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

  1. You have up finding your true self? Keep wondering. Finding and realizing one self is in fact the real meaning of life. We can all be like Aragorn, picking up the sword and returning home once again.

  2. ” Not all who wander are lost ! ” will now be added to my list of favourite quotes. I was wandering through people’s responses to the recent WordPress task, getting lost, trying to find a blog that spoke to me, that I could respond to. Your title intrigued me and when I saw that the quote was from Tolkien, I just had to read on. I’m glad I did so as I really enjoyed the read. I was disappointed with myself for not recognising the quote as I’ve read Lord of the Rings twice !
    The story of the tattoo, the pocket watch and your boyfriend was a nice way to end.
    Keep on wandering in the free world !

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