“[Bilbo] used to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary.” – Frodo (Book 1, Chapter 3).
The great river represents the flux of time.
It may encounter chaotic times, experiencing twists and turns; but sometimes it flows in peacefulness and tranquility. I am cognizant of this pattern of progression throughout The Fellowship’s odyssey, continually stumbling upon both serenity and mayhem. They have encountered vicissitudes, usually unforeseen.
They have been haunted by their fears, the selfsame fear that sprang hope.
The river has a destination, predestined by fate, but it definitely does not have an assurance for safety, for it will never hold back. Frodo had an inclination to return home, realizing that he might perish, but it is impossible to battle the forceful tides and reverse the clock. The stream will not allow the past to be altered, as it is beyond the bounds of possibility.
Tolkien communicates that mortals will never escape time, despite having unlimited desires in a limited time. Hence, their choices are urged by time, which may be either a gift or havoc, depending on how one utilizes it.
This certainly reflects the horrors of war. Soldiers did not appoint themselves to be in their state of affairs. The majority feasibly desired an ordinary life without burden, and so did Frodo (the Ring-Bearer that must confront a dilemma). But time has imprisoned them in an unending sequence of cause-and-effects, in which they have no alternative choice but to live within it and endure.
This is the inescapable reality of life.
“For such is the way of it: to find and lose, as it seems to those whose boat is on the running stream.” – Legolas (Book 2, Chapter 8).