If there’s anyone I consider a role model, it’d be J.K. Rowling. At the absolute lowest point in her life, she wrote Harry Potter – words that spawned seven books, eight movies, a theme park, and a worldwide community of fans who would never be the same now that they had cracked the spine of those books. And for those fans, Harry Potter was more than just an interesting story – it was a way of life. Harry Potter has taught me many things, so for Jo Rowling’s birthday, I’d like to share with you seven lessons I learned from the series – after all, seven is a magical number. :)
1. Our choices matter the most.
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
The only reason Harry Potter got sorted into Gryffindor (portrayed to be the “good” house) over Slytherin (what he considered the “evil” house) is because he chose it – he asked the Sorting Hat to put him into Gryffindor. According to the Hat, there was a very fine between Gryffindor and Slytherin – and throughout the series we also learn that Harry and Voldemort actually have quite a lot in common, even ability-wise. But there is one major difference: Harry chose to use his power for good instead of evil.
2. Bravery comes in all forms.
Neville went bright red but turned in his seat to face Malfoy. “I’m worth twelve of you, Malfoy,” he stammered.
“There are all kinds of courage.” – Dumbledore.
We see a lot of courage in the seven books – whether it’s James Potter, who steps in front of his wife and child to save them. Or Harry Potter, who employs the “act first, think later” rule and jumps into dangerous situations. Or Neville Longbottom, the bumbling, accident-prone boy, who still manages to show bravery in the smallest of ways – especially when it matters the most.
3. Value your friendship…
“No Harry, you listen,” said Hermione. “We’re coming with you. That was decided months ago – years, really.”
Harry Potter may be the Boy-Who-Lived and the one widely considered to be the hero, but the truth is, he couldn’t have gotten anywhere if it weren’t for his two best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. They stuck with him through thick and thin, often put their lives in danger for him, and followed him wherever he went – even if it meant leaving their families behind and dropping out of Hogwarts. Without them, Harry would have gotten no where.
4. … at the same time, stand up to your friends.
“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”
Even though standing up for your friends is important, standing up to them is just as crucial. Neville proves his courage when he tries to stop Harry, Hermione and Ron from doing something he believes to be wrong – again, it comes down to choosing the right thing.
5. Don’t underestimate anyone.
“You fail to recognize that it matters not what someone is born but what they grow to be.”
Hermione is considered to be a “mudblood” because her parents have no magical powers and do not come from wizarding lineage. But yet, she’s the smartest witch in Harry Potter’s year, and often turns out to be the one to provide solutions to their problems. The flip holds true for Neville: he’s the son of a famous witch and wizard, but is considered to be clumsy and of weak magical power. Yet, he holds his own and ends up being crucial in the final battle.
6. Don’t fear death.
” To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”
Voldemort considered death to be the worst that could happen to him, which is why he did the horrific thing of splitting something as pure as a soul into several parts. Dumbledore, on the other hand, believes that Voldemort’s inability to understand that there are things worse than death is exactly what is his biggest weakness. And, in fact, Voldemort’s quest for immortality is what led him down to path to becoming the most evil wizard of all time – and, ultimately, his demise.
7. The weapon we have is love.
“Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign … to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.”
Harry Potter didn’t have physical strength, great power, or even extraordinary wizarding talent… but the one thing he did have, that Voldemort didn’t, was love and the ability to love. It was his mother’s love for him that provided him with the protection he needed to become the Boy-Who-Lived. And it was Harry’s love for his friends, his girlfriend, and his school that resulted in him walking to his death… and triumphing over the most evil wizard of all time.
Happy birthday, Jo Rowling. Thank you for those words that we can read, reread, and read again. For those words that we can still find solace in. And for those words that we can go back to, after all this time… and always.
So, whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home…
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