Day 23, Thursday: Things you’ve learned that school won’t teach you
|At the last book release with my newly acquired book in hand while carrying my sleeping baby ‘Mandrake plant’ in my HotSling.|
There are many things I have learned through experiencing life that I did not learn in school. However there are also a lot of things I learned from reading books. I love J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book series and I have both the English and the American series sitting on my bookshelf. I owe my younger sister for getting me hooked into this magical world. My parents had started reading books along with her and I would be sitting at the breakfast table feeling left out as the three of them discussed ‘quidditch’. There were only three books out when I began reading them and was instantly hooked. For each book release we would stay up all night at the bookstores. As my children came along I brought them along too and in costume. My eldest was baby Harry Potter with the scar for the 6th book release and for the 7th he was a Howler and his baby brother was mandrake plant. I now read these books to my children and when we finish a book they are then allowed to finally see the film for the first time. These books have touched three generations in my family since their release in the late nineties.
What makes the Harry Potter series so great is that this in-depth imaginative world of magic is married with so many integral life lessons we can relate to or apply to our own life as muggles. If you have not read the books I have to caution you with a quote by Doctor Who’s River Song, “Spoilers.”
1. How we treat others. This is a reoccurring theme in the books. With wizards of different backgrounds (truebloods, half-bloods, and muggle born) many characters use this class system to treat people differently. Characters like Draco Malfoy who think half-bloods like Hermione are dirt and less off families like the Weasleys, are not much better. Then of course w have the house elves who are most mistreated for being common slaves of the magical realm.
In the Goblet of Fire Sirius says to Ron, “…If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”
Real character is not defined by someone’s surname nor how well off they are in life. But by how they treat others, especially those who can do no real benefit to make our lives better. Selfless acts of kindness are the real strength behind a person.
2. Parent’s Love is Powerful. This is seen from the beginning with how Harry Potter was saved against Voldormort’s attack on his family. In the last book we see examples of two mothers whose parental love leads them to make choices to protect their children. Despite the truth that Narcissa Malfoy is horrible woman, she was shown in the books to do anything for her son, Draco, even make an Unbreakable Vow to save his life. In the Deathly Hallows she spares Harry’s life, walks away from Voldormort, and gets her family to leave the evilness behind. I felt in the film it portrayed the Malfoys leaving as cowards. While there is truth in that the unblinding love for her family above all else is what drives Narcissa to protect her family and get away. The other character is Molly Weasley in one of my favourite scenes in the last battle at Hogwarts. Belatrix has made an attack on her youngest daughter Ginny and makes a comment about her recently deceased twin son, Fred. Molly’s love her for children sends her into mother bear mode to protect her children which is followed by the infamous scene where she curses and then kills Belatrix. I definitely believe this theme resonates stronger with me now that I have children of my own.
3. Your family is not limited by blood relations. Harry may have lost his parents early on and have been treated like an unwanted and worthless outsider by his muggle relations. However that does not mean he does not have a family. He was practically the eight kid in Weasley family and was looked after by characters at Hogwarts such as Dumbledore, McGonagall, and yes…Snape. For myself I love this truth in the books because it is something that rings true in my own life. I grew up in Europe where my parents’ blood relations resided in the US. As small as our family is, as I have no cousins, I had my church family that became my adopted grandparents, uncles, and aunts. I have friends all over the world that are closer to me as family than blood relations on my husband’s side of the family. Especially as an expat living an nomadic life, we do not have to limit ourselves to the family to which we are born.
4. The good deeds of others is not alway seen and you cannot judge a person. These two things are best represented in the books by my favourite character Severus Snape. He is looked at as a baddie or a non agreeable character through out the series. It really is not until his death that Harry realizes the truth behind Snape. It was Snape’s love and devotion for Harry’s mother that motivated him to let others see him one way while he basically looked out for Harry’s best interests through out the story. His character has helped me in my own life when I had people thinking and saying things about me that were not necessarily true and more so very ugly. But I had people in my life to protect and I will still go on protecting them. Perhaps it could have been easier for Snape to just come clean to be treated and respected better by his colleagues and students. But then he would have failed the one he loved. That is what I really liked about his character that he had that much love inside him, though it was not seen by others. My second favourite character was Neville and he could have easily been discounted as being insignificant and worthless to the story. But he grew and improved through out the books to become the strong character in the final part of the story. It proves you should be patient with yourself and others. Never judge.
5. Actions speak louder than words. In this case they are also more important than the hand we are dealt in life. In the books this is best shown through the comparisons of Harry Potter and Lord Voldermort. They are so similar when it comes to the lives they were given. They were both orphans, both found out they were wizards at age eleven, both could speak to snakes, and both were destined for Slytherin. I still think that Harry Potter, chose to be in Gryffindor. Which is the the point of this that we all have the choice. While Tom Riddle chose his path and became Lord Voldemort, Harry Potter chose to be good and fight evil.
Albus Dumbledore says, “It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
To say that we cannot do something or cannot achieve a goal because we lack something is limiting our true strength and character. Doors may open and close but we can choose which path to take and can choose how we react to life.
6. We all make mistakes, but we can grow from them. We are perfect and we will continue to make mistakes until our last breath. Just as we should not judge others for their mistakes we should also live by the truth we can come back from them. Mistakes do not have to define us but to help mold us into better people. At one point of the books Ron walked away from his friends out of anger. However he came back and stood beside his friends when they needed him most. Professor Lupin is a werewolf and does not run away in shame. Instead he uses that to help mentor Harry and become a stronger character for his choices in the book. Percy was not a character I was necessarily found of in the books. After he deserts his family he comes back, admitting wrongs and asking for forgiveness. We can all find redemption in this life and we should be quick to forgive others.
7. Inspire others with the way you live your life. Having lost my father almost five years ago this is something I have taken away from his loss. His life inspired others and he has inspired me, my husband and his grandsons. Harry too lost his father but it was his memory of him that gave him the stregth to stand up to Voldemort in the graveyard scene. I want my own children to remember me for the choices I made and the legacy I leave behind. We are not perfect but we can strive to be that person people need in their lives. Its a powerful theme I take away from this book series.
I know there are many more lessons to be taken away from this book series and so many great lessons from other books. It is why I love to read and why I pass on the love of books to my children.
Q: What is a book that has impacted you and what have you taken away from it?