He’s a good friend of mine that Harry Potter, we grew up together. We met when I was just twelve and he eleven, he had just discovered that he was a wizard and would be attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry! You can imagine my jealousy when I did not receive my letter by owl post, due to my muggle heritage. But Harry would retell his adventures to me and all the things Professor Dumbledore said to him, I’m quite sure that Albus Dumbledore is the wisest man on the planet.
Harry Potter changed my life. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the first generation of Harry Potter readers owe their abilities of acceptance, understanding and patience to the wise one-liners delivered by Albus Dumbledore to Harry whenever a dilemma occurred.
This wizened old man always knew just what to say about our dreams, internal wars and external attacks, and how to make us think.
After the ordeal that took place in the Chamber of Secrets Dumbledore reassured Harry that his shared abilities with Voldemort did not define him. “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
This insightful observation reassured children across the globe that while blood ties most certainly influences us, it is not our driving characteristic and so we are individual, it is our choices and actions that will set us apart and define the person we are growing into, and not to let the actions of those surrounding us cloud our path to the person we are to become.
Another beauty from the second instalment is “Help will always be given at Hgwarts to those who ask for it.” It is not shameful to ask for help or accept that you need it, in fact being able to do so speaks of your humility, it shows other that while you can do many things on your own back, you will not turn your back on others when they offer it in your time of need. Pride will not get in your way and so, you will help others if they ask, for that is what true family and friendship is.
Upon Dumbledores discovery that Harry had been spending his time with the Mirror of Erised, he departed a gem of knowledge unto him so as his life would not be spent dwelling upon what he wished could be. “It does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live”. While having a dream to pursue and drive you on is a wonderful thing, it must not become all consuming. By all means, strive to achieve every goal you set and fulfil your every wish, but do not forget to pay attention to all the moments in between, that are taking place this minute. While we must acknowledge the future it is important not to forget the present, for it is here where we will make the decisions and actions that will form us into people. Seven years from now you don’t want to regret not going to see that friend, taking a holiday or falling in love. It is the present experiences that will hold us up if our dreams are crushed.
In the Philosophers Stone, Dumbledore confides to Harry that his friend and creator Nicolas Flamel has accepted his coming departure due to the destruction of the stone. To Harry’s shock Dumbledore replies, “After all, to the well organised mind, death is but the next great adventure.”
While we fear death and aggressively evade its clutches, to the accepting mind it is but the next journey of our self discovery and existence on this earth or another. Whether you believe in a true and final death, angels, ghosts or reincarnation, death is but a transitionary stage in our lives and it takes us on to the next great adventure, and for all we know, it could be the greatest of all, and after all, we certainly won’t be lonely.
In the fourth book the Goblet of Fire, Hogwarts Castle becomes host to sister schools Durmstrang Institute from Bulgaria and Beauxbatons Academy of Magic from France. While the schools are present for the Triwizard Tournament they are met with hostility from the Hogwarts students, Dumbledore tries to calm the waters with this notion, “Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open”. In The Potter series we are confronted with characters such as The Malfoy’s whom see themselves as superior due to their ‘pure’ Wizarding blood while referring to those muggle born, like Hermione, as mudbloods – those with dirty or mixed blood. In this subtle addressing of racial, ethnicity and religious discrepancies across the world Dumbledore answers a global problem that plagues almost every city with this clever line, and gives us something to reflect upon for the future.
In the Prisoner of Azkaban Dumbledore welcomes the students into the new school year under unfortunate circumstances, the escape of Sirius Black from the Wizarding prison. While Dementors circle the school he reminds us, “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
Another way of saying every cloud has a silver lining, but somewhat more poetic. For me, it’s interpretation is as follows, while death affects us all, sometimes sudden and unexpectedly, horribly and rapidly. Other times it is drawn out and we wait with this small insight into what the future holds. Between these two circumstances the latter gives us time to show our love, spend our time wisely and allow for goodbyes or shared experiences before the devastating departure. Neither situation is good or one better than the other, but the light in this darkness is that words were not left unsaid, we were not left angry or lonely and we had a little time just to appreciate the goodness a person holds. Life is full of great happiness and great devastation, but for all that leave us behind their wishes would not be to see us crumble, but to stand up strong and ready. We must let the light in for it makes the darkness just a little more bearable.
If I could have any teacher in the world it would be Albus Dumbledore, for he knew this life much better than I.