Friday, July 15, 2011

Winguardian Leviosa!

I just watched the last movie of the Harry Potter saga in honor of the passing of an age. I feel as though I am older for having lived this story. As I look back on what I like to call the Harry Potter decade, I am astounded at how much this story has reflected our world and how much it has helped me live it.

The world I find myself in the second decade of the new millennium has changed drastically and suddenly from the previous decades; I've had to re-define some very basic concepts, like the idea of safety, travel, friendship, communication, education, and segregation. It has been, for me, a decade of upheavals on a very basic, psychic level that has mandated that I replace my internal compass with a GPS.

I remember telling my friends scattered across the country that  get-togethers should be no problems, since no place is farther than the nearest airport; but that was before 9/11, which completely changed air travel. I remember being able to count my friends on my fingers; but that was before facebook told me that I'd need many arms and many, many fingers to count my friends. I remember always being on the look out for reliable, reasonably priced calling cards and long distance plans; but that was before oovoo and 3G phones. The list goes on.

In a world that changes so fast, where tomorrow strides and barges in before today is done, I've held on to stories that distill these complex issues into familiar archetypes, told in a way that reminds me of the familiar way of life, at the same time shows characters trying to adjust to a completely new world, having to learn very similar lessons. This story resonates with me for many reasons, but I believe my ability to relate to the characters' choices, lessons, terrors, joys, and crossroads is the main one.

I am not alone in this, of course; my child, who is putting together her college applications, was very impressed to know that one of her dream schools has a very active Quidditch team; we visited "Harry Potter Houses" on our last trip to London and Oxford; no one today is a stranger to a strange word like "muggle."

Today, the entire theatre was completely full and the whole experience to watching this movie on the opening weekend was a treat, like watching a Bollywood blockbuster on opening night. The audience actively participated in the watching: there were boos, clucks, giggles, snickers, guffaws, and outright laughter, as though we were all at a live performance, not a movie. As the light faded out on the characters we'd all come to know so well, the audience burst into a resounding applause.

This was a heartening experience. When I read bleak projections for the future, dire consequences promised for irresponsible choices made by earlier decades, I am more patient. After all, there can be no way to predict what gems of imagination await during troubled, troubling times to remind us of the richness, sweetness, and sheer beauty that is the human experience.

Like audiences emerging out of a tragedy many millennia ago, we, the audience emerging from the theatre today were definitely proud of being human, of the same ilk as the characters whom we admire, then pity and fear for, and ultimately own, so that, like the wish-figures reflected in the mirror of Erised, they keep us company when we look into our solitary looking glasses.


  1. What a great commentary! I especially loved your memories of the not-so-distant past.

    And how wonderful to read it after several encounters with doom and gloom people yesterday! Everyone I spoke to was very pessimistic about the debt ceiling and the Federal government and the future more generally.

    Keep writing! I need your voice!

  2. Ah, a decade has pass at the speed of light! For me the biggest changes are my girls and my life.
    Ten years ago my girls were 9 and 6 and I was unhappily married. I just moved to Florida and started to look for work in the education field after many years of staying home with my kids...
    A lot of good a lot of bad; a lot of living and that's by itself is a blessing.

  3. I agree, Kristin! the only thing that holds our sanity together is stories, i believe!
    And Ofelia, that's true: a decade has really passed very quickly. I remember how my kid was a real kid when Harry Potter books first came out!