After a year and a half of reading to my boys six night per week (give or take), we recently finished all seven books in the Harry Potter series. What an incredible story! The longer I read, the more I became aware of how many details J.K. Rowling wove throughout the fabric of the story. Something she mentioned in Book 1 would show up again in say, Book 4, then again, at the end of Book 7. She is a true master of storytelling and deserves every bit of credit she has received over the years!
As I sat down to write today’s article, I was eager to share with you my experience with the series. Then, I remembered a post I had written last year regarding these books and how my beliefs about them had changed over time. As I re-read the article, I felt compelled to share it with you again. It not only offers an excellent example of growing from within, but it also sings the praises of the two main themes of the books, as I see them: Love and Loyalty.
In June of 2011, I began this particular article by sharing a quote by Horace Mann:
“Do not think of knocking out another person’s brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago.”
Well, on this subject I clearly differ from the Leslie of ten years ago. See what I mean…. Here is the piece I wrote (with minor changes):
Tonight, as I finished reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5) to my boys, I was reminded of a belief I had ten years ago, that was indeed, different from a belief I hold today. My belief was that the Harry Potter series wasn’t suitable literature to read to kids. I held an ignorant notion that it was all about children performing spells on adults. That it was about witches, wizards, dark stuff, foolish stuff. I say ignorant, because I never took the time to ask others, to read reviews, to research. I never took the time to Seek. I simply had a belief.
How delighted I am that I opened myself up to What IS. What is, are books that are very well written about two topics I find extremely important in the development of one’s character. These two topics are Love and Loyalty. The love and loyalty that the main characters display for one another is unmistakable. And a more subtle loyalty, the loyalty to Self, is demonstrated time and time again when Harry, landing at various crossroads, chooses to do the right thing, even when it’s the more arduous choice.
These books are so well written and involve such depth of character, I easily find myself reading out loud for an hour at a time, my boys closely following the plot, eager for more. And these are not tiny books that hold their attention so easily. The one we finished tonight was 870 pages; I believe the last two are even longer. Yet my boys stick with them, pointing out the love and loyalty each time they notice it.
Had I not opened myself up to what is (what I believe to be ‘what is’), about this series, I would have missed out on numerous opportunities to share and discuss explicit examples of Love and Loyalty with my boys. I would have missed out on great vocabulary building opportunities with them; J.K. Rowling doesn’t dummy-down these books. Sure, I could have found other literature with wonderful examples of love, loyalty, and challenging vocabulary, but for me, I would have missed out on an opportunity to learn from my own closed belief.
Can you think of any examples where your beliefs differ from yourself ten years ago? Would you be willing to post and share, hopefully giving others an opportunity to learn and grow with you?
In closing, I leave you with some of my favorite quotes from the Harry Potter series:
“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.” ~ Albus Dumbledore (used in the blog article: “Dreaming. Living. Reality.”)
Sirius Black tells Ron: “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”
“Curiosity is not a sin,” said Dumbledore. “But we should exercise caution with our curiosity… yes, indeed….”
“No good sittin’ worryin’ abou’ it,” said Hagrid. “What’s comin’ will come, an’ we’ll meet it when it does.”
“It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, find to their own surprise that they wear it well.” ~ Albus Dumbledore
To Harry: “You are the true master of death, because the true master does not seek to run away from Death. He accepts that he must die, and understands that there are far, far worse things in the living world than dying.” ~ Albus Dumbledore
“Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and above all, those who live without love.” ~ Albus Dumbledore
To Dumbledore: “Tell me one last thing,” said Harry. “Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?”
Dumbledore beamed at him, and his voice sounded loud and strong in Harry’s ears even though the bright mist was descending again, obscuring his figure.
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
How happy I am that I chose to differ from the me of ten years ago. How happy I am that I chose to be open to something that I formerly thought to be fatuous — something that enriched the lives of my children and enhanced our relationship beyond measure. Memories that will be with us throughout our lifetimes were made over the countless hours of sharing Harry Potter together.
Which brings me to perhaps my favorite quote, and the incitement for today’s title:
“It is our choices Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” ~ Albus Dumbledore
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