Harry Potter has been on my mind again lately. I just finished reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which for those of you who aren’t familiar with Harry Potter, is the script for a play set a generation after the Harry Potter novels, featuring the adult Harry Potter and one of his children. The play is currently being performed in London. But that is not the point I’m getting at here.
I spent a lot of time in the car this weekend, and at one point I was thinking about other parts of the Harry Potter story. I was reminded in particular of a scene that always felt particularly intense and poignant to me, and I’ll try to share my thoughts without giving away any crucial spoilers. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final book in the series, 17-year-old Harry and his friends are on a quest to find and destroy a group of objects that Voldemort (or, as I called him before, Wizard Hitler) has enchanted with some very dark magic, in an attempt to make himself immortal. About halfway through the book (chapter 19, specifically), Harry and his friends have one of these dark objects, and after carrying it around for a few months, they have found a means with which to destroy it. While carrying it around, however, it seems to bring out all sorts of dark and negative behavior in whomever is carrying it, at times leading to fights between Harry and his friends.
Harry feels that Ron should be the one to destroy this enchanted object. But as Ron is about to do so, the object suddenly speaks to Ron, saying that it has seen all of Ron’s greatest fears, and speaking and reenacting these fears in full view of Ron, Harry, and Hermione. The object reminds Ron that he is always overshadowed. In his family, he has his older brothers and younger sister, and at school, his best friends are Harry, who is famous within the Wizarding World because of the prophecies made about him, and Hermione, who is a super genius. The object makes Ron feel like he cannot do anything right, that Harry and Hermione would be better off on their quest without him. The voices coming from the object mock Ron by saying that no one wants him, and that no woman would ever be interested in him when they could have Harry Potter instead.
I know those voices. I know those voices because I hear them too… at least in a metaphorical sense.
Of course, I am not carrying around an object that contains a piece of Wizard Hitler’s soul. This is because Wizard Hitler and magic aren’t real, a fact that Church I With The Problems and many other legalistic conservative churches never fully grasped, but that’s another story for another time. But all of those fears were already inside Ron’s head; the dark object just saw Ron’s fears and manifested them in front of him. And some very similar fears are already inside my head. Those fears become manifest whenever I feel excluded from something my friends are doing or talking about. They become manifest whenever I see my friends in new romantic relationships while the months since my last date slowly turn into years. Sometimes I can distract myself from those voices, just as Harry and Ron and Hermione did by taking turns who would hold the evil object, but they cannot be easily destroyed.
But I have to find a way. I am a Gryffindor, just like Harry, Ron, and Hermione. I can be brave and silence the evil voices in my head forever once and for all. I must.
But I’m still searching for a way to do so. And it won’t be easy.