That One I Broke up with Harry Potter and it Emotionally Messed Me Up for a While

I was battling with an inner dilemma last night in my apartment. All of my roommates were out. I really just wanted to watch anime on the big television in the living room. But there lies the problem. I enjoy watching anime. The issue is that not many people just enjoy watching anime. Either it is someone’s air, food, water, and shelter, or it isn’t. And those are the people who think the first group is weird. My fear was that you can only be in one group or the other. If I was watching anime at all then, well, there was only one alternative. While increasing polarization of society is happening, that isn’t what we’ll be looking into today. In the first Harry Potter book, Harry and Dumbledore have a conversation by the Mirror of Erised. Dumbledore tells Harry, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live”. It seems that many have fallen into the trap of dreams rather than the depths of reality.

One time, sitting in her car, one of my best friends described to me her struggles with friends over the past couple of years. She’d been more detached from our circle of friends because of various extracurricular activities and found a different group to be with. As her senior year progressed, she prepared for college and started focusing more on her personal goals after high school and what she was going to do to make her dreams a reality. Her friends, not as much. Their focus was much more on the books and movies and television that made them feel something. It was the Ministry of Magic instead of the government. Percy and Annabeth instead of real life relationships. My dear friend wanted to make her dreams a reality, not have her reality be dreams.

When I was younger, I read Harry Potter constantly. It was, in a sense, a part of my necessities, if not my drug. I was enchanted by the literary magic. The fact that someone could come up with such a world was beyond me. It captured my heart and mind. I fell in love with the characters and the style and the story. Yet I fell into the trap that it (the encompassing cloud of everything) was perfect. When I got older and had a greater presence on the internet, my world began to shatter. I had never really considered politics to be part of Harry Potter (or fiction in general). I was truly shocked. My idol, JK Rowling, wasn’t standing up for her work. She was just kind of going along with whatever in my eyes. That broke my heart. In that time, magic was dead, reanimated with the whims of the world. I had also subconsciously divorced myself from literature. I didn’t read for pleasure anymore. I was happy when I was forced to read for school, even though I didn’t realize why at the time. I still loved reading. I just hadn’t gotten over the split between me and “Harry’s Wondrous World”. It wasn’t until the end of my junior year that I truly started to come back to that abandoned love of mine.

I had the opportunity to take a Lord of the Rings class the third trimester of that year. It is one of the only of its kind in the nation. The way that the class was set up made it so that the focus was much less on the actual reading (which my A in the class without reading the entire series can attest to), and much more on the themes and messages of the series. One of the first assignments that we did in the class was to write an essay on our personal “ring” and who was in our “fellowship” in this particular journey of our lives. I didn’t turn in the paper on time. I thought about it for weeks and worked on it. By the time I was finished, I wrote twice that was required of me. And it meant something. The class continued to be taught in this fashion. We applied what we were learning to our lives. There were times where I wished it was a class called “Lord of the Rings and Christianity” where I could talk more explicitly about my personal beliefs. However, it was one of the most spiritually and emotionally uplifting classes I had ever experienced during my public education. It was in that class that I was reminded that fiction is meant to be an aide to our reality, not reality itself.

That is when my world changed.

That June for my birthday I ended up with four books: The Four Loves by CS Lewis, Mere Christianity by CS Lewis, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, and The Second Treatise of Government by John Locke. The Treatise was for reference for debate and I haven’t read it in full. I had also read Howl’s Moving Castle sometime ago (it was one of my sister’s favorite book). These were the books to the start of my recovery. CS Lewis is a theme of my senior year. His logic-with-faith approach to religion drew me in. The not-so-subtle allegory of The Chronicles of Narnia reinforced the idea that literature can and is an effective tool for life. I may have gotten a little obsessed, but it was with something that was very real. One of my friends also had an affinity for Lewis. The discussions we were able to have expanded my world and helped me to understand what I believed better. The humor in Howl’s Moving Castle still makes me laugh and know it’s okay to have a good time. As I get closer and closer to finishing The Lord of the Rings (it’s been a tough run), I continue to see that, even with my flaws, I am able to help accomplish incredible things.

In Camelot, King Arthur says, “We must not let our passions destroy our dreams”. Rather, we should make sure our passions help to achieve them.

~Ali