By Christian Adrian Brown
Body, Mind and Quill
ABOUT THE COLUMNIST
Quadragenarian fitness model, lifestyle coach and bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Feast of Fates, Christian A. Brown received a Kirkus star in 2014 for the first novel in his genrechanging Four Feasts till Darkness series. He has appeared on Newstalk 1010, AM640, Daytime Rogers, and Get Bold Today with LeGrande Green. He actively writes and speaks about his mother’s journey with cancer and on gender issues in the media.
In literature, some characters possess immense strength, endurance, or willpower that inspires readers to achieve incredible feats in their own lives. These fictional figures can teach us valuable lessons about pushing our limits and reaching for greatness. Today, let’s compare two iconic literary characters, Hercules and Frodo Baggins, and see what modern exercises or activities you can emulate to feel the same sense of achievement.
Hercules, the Greek demigod, is known for his incredible strength and endurance, performing the impossible such as slaying the Nemean lion, cleaning the Augean stables in a single day, and capturing the Cretan Bull. One can experience a similar sense of strength and endurance in the modern world by participating in a Tough Mudder event. Tough Mudder is an extreme obstacle course designed to test physical and mental limits. Participants must overcome various obstacles, such as crawling through mud pits, scaling walls, and carrying heavy objects. In addition, the event requires physical strength and endurance, as participants must complete the course within a specific time frame.
Hercules’ adaptivity is often attributed to his godly heritage and supernatural abilities. However, he was half-mortal, and the Tough Mudder event shows us that mere mortals can achieve similar feats through hard work and dedication. As you know, I’m a strong and consistent advocate of personal betterment. People achieve greatness by charging headlong into adversity. In the fire, we are forged.
Another iconic literary character known for legendary willpower and endurance is our dear, furry-footed Frodo Baggins, the protagonist of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. A target of cruel fate, Frodo becomes tasked with destroying the One Ring, a godly artifact that can only be melted in the fires of Mount Doom. Throughout his perilous journey, Frodo faces nigh-insurmountable challenges and obstacles, including physical exhaustion, mental fatigue, and the whispering temptation of the Ring’s seductive power.
I’d compare Frodo’s journey to hiking Appalachian Trail, a 2,200-mile trail stretching from Georgia to Maine. To succeed, hikers must navigate rugged terrain, harsh weather conditions, and isolation from civilization. Such an odyssey demands a tremendous physical and mental toll, as hikers must persevere through weeks or even months of hiking. Nevertheless, Frodo’s journey to destroy the One Ring is a testament to human perseverance. Moreover, it also speaks to the value of fraternity; let’s remember trusty Samwise. Despite numerous horrific roadblocks, including a gargantuan spider queen, the unlikely duo complete their astonishing quest and earn a lifetime of reverence and rest. Similarly, hikers on the Appalachian Trail celebrate their last, breathless step toward their goal, proving that men, too, can walk in the footsteps of hobbit kind.
Beyond Hercules and Frodo, innumerable literary characters boast immense strength, endurance, or willpower and are likewise inspirational. For example, Katniss Everdeen from “The Hunger Games” trilogy demonstrates sheer grit as she fights for survival in the arena. Similarly, Atticus Finch from “To Kill a Mockingbird” embodies a strong sense of moral courage as he defends a black man against false accusations.
Indeed, fictional heroes abound who lead with practical examples of human ambition. We grow, compensate, and prepare for greater trials whenever we topple physical or mental milestones. Hard work and dedication always reap the best rewards.
As the poet Horace, once said, “Ad astra per aspera.” (Through hardships to the stars.)
Article originally Published in the April / May 2023 Issue: Voices.