I believe that adults who read Harry Potter should no longer hide in the shadows, ashamed of the fact that they are obsessed with a series of children’s books. Ah yes, I am one of those “Potterheads”. I have been reading Harry Potter for years, and it never fails that someone asks me that fated question: “why do you read those books?” For a very long time, I was not able to answer honestly for fear of coming off as a complete nerd. However, that was then. Since reading the seventh, and sadly the final, book in the Harry Potter series, I have had a change of heart. Now if someone asks me that question, I have an answer ready, and I will respond proudly by saying I read Harry Potter because I have learned so much from those books.
I have learned how to bond with my sister. Every time I have ever been to a Harry Potter related event, whether it be a book release or a movie opening, my twelve-year-old sister has been right by my side. Not because she likes Harry Potter, actually she cannot stand Harry Potter, but because I need a child to go with me, so I do not look like a total loser. However, all that aside, we have had some wonderful times over the years. Where else, but at a Harry Potter book release can someone pay $10 for a box of jelly beans with 12 flavors ranging from dish soap to earwax, then stand outside a bookstore and hesitantly taste each one in an effort to guess the flavor? Good times!
Harry Potter has also taught me to have patience. Over the years, I have learned the art of waiting. Waiting for books. Waiting for movies. Waiting in long lines for both. Those of us who read Harry Potter have no choice but to acquire a certain amount of patience. I get one book, and in the midst of the excitement devour it in one or two days. Then, again, I wait years for the next one. Eventually, a release date is announced. Then what do I do? Wait. Patiently wait months for that date to arrive. Then the day of the release finally arrives. I get up, go get my sister, go to the bookstore hours early and… you guessed it… wait. At last, I get the book, read it in a day or so, and start the process all over again.
Possibly, the most important lesson I have learned from Harry Potter is acceptance. I have learned to accept that things are not always what they seem and that my preconceptions are not always right. I admit that I did not see it coming when JK Rowling outted Dumbledore. But the question is, do I admire Dumbledore any less knowing that he is gay? The answer is no. There were also many times that I questioned the motives of a certain character in the books. However, do I accept that Dumbledore was always right about Snape in saying that he was good all along? Absolutely.
Now that the story has finally come to an end, and all the waiting is over, I have come full circle. Instead of being embarrassed about reading these books and growing up with these characters, I have instead chosen to see what I, as a person, have gained from allowing these books to be a part of my life. I will admit that there have been a few feelings of embarrassment here or there, the most recent one being at the final book release. As my sister and I were walking into the store, I began to feel a little self-conscious. There I was, twenty-three years old, going into a bookstore wearing a witch hat, a pair of Harry Potter glasses, and a lightning-shaped “scar” drawn on my forehead with black eyeliner. However, when we got into the store, those feelings dissipated. That night, in that Borders bookstore, there were thousands of people there just like me. Young, old, man, woman, black, white, and brown all there at the same time for the very same thing. It was at that moment I realized my very last lesson – unity. Regardless of all of our differences, all those people, and it had to be thousands, were together that night to celebrate the end of an era. And, to quote the last words of the very last Harry Potter book, “all was well.”
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.