Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Spoiler-Free Letter to Harry Potter

Dear Harry-

I guess I'm in the mood to write letters this week to amorphous concepts or, in your case, fictional characters. However, following her bliss is what gave JK Rowling the status of being richer than the Queen of England, so I suppose I should follow mine and see where it takes me. Forgive me if my letter takes some time to get to you. There are few owls where I live, and the crows don't take too kindly to having mail strapped to their legs.

When you first came on the scene I had just finished my graduate work. After two years of reading such riveting tomes as Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy and RD Lang's The Divided Self, I was desperate to get back to reading for pleasure. Since The Sorcerer's Stone (or, for the Anglo-file in me, The Philosopher's Stone) landed on my nightstand almost ten years ago, I have not stopped reading -- even though the speed of my hobby varies depending on life's other duties. Your story made me dream again -- it captured my imagination unlike anything else I had read since I was a teenager.

Tonight, while my wife and son are away at Chez Healing for the first of 3 remaining chemo rounds, I sat on the couch and came to "the end of all things" (to quote from another similar hero). That was an hour ago, and I've wandered around the house since in silence, taking in this profound moment. And, all the while, I think of my son.

While I am one of those folks that always knew I would be a parent, the experience I had that sealed the deal for me came the one time I went to a midnight party in your honor. I think it was Prisoner of Azkaban that was about to come out, and I found myself surrounded by hundreds of gleeful children and their parents, awaiting the stroke of midnight as if a great magical act was indeed about to occur. When the time came, the clerk at the front of the store began calling out the numbers given to people when they came in the door. One by one each made their way to the front to make their purchase. About an hour in, the number 254 was called (why I can remember that, I have no idea), and from the back of the store I heard a little boy scream "THAT'S ME! THAT'S ME!!!!". As if he had just one a lottery he wasn't expecting to win, the boy raced through the crowd and practically tackled the cashier.

At that moment, bearing witness to the excitement and shear joy in that child's face, the desire to be a parent was etched into my heart. From that point on, every time a new Potter book materialized, my imagination went first towards envisioning the scene on the page -- then second to envisioning me reading the story to my own children.

The dream of parenthood as become a reality -- but as you learned through your travels, Harry, sometimes the dream of family is marred with tragedy and unpleasantness. Recently, as my wife and I began our conversations about the future of our family, my wife suggested that we make a list of the things we want our son to experience. The goal is to focus as much attention as we can on making sure we take the time now to expose him to everything -- as we don't know how much time we have.

Of course, top on my list is the day when I can sit next to his bed and read to him about you. Having reached the end of your story and taken stock of it in total, I see a great many similarities between my son and you. First off, the scars -- although my son's lightning bolt is on the side of his head, and his forehead has a horseshoe-shaped one. Like you, my son earned his while fighting a terrible evil. While the end of my son's story is uncertain, you are no doubt kindred spirits in battle.

I used to run leadership camps for middle-school students, and during the closing activity of the final night I would always read to them about your discovery that you were a wizard. In the world of archetypes that you will no doubt be added to, for me you always represented the wizard in all of us. This is a secret so many miss out on; that we are beautiful beings capable of great things, who should never allow ourselves to be put into cupboards.

Rowling suggests that children be 7 years old before reading your story. Tonight, I gently placed Hallows next to the other 6 books in the bookcase in my son's room, and slid shut the door. Aside from the time my wife retrieves it to finish your story herself, they will sit waiting for the day when, like a newly discovered treasure, my son goes to claim your story for his own. With my own wand in hand, with every spell I can cast, I am working hard to see that day.

Yours in Wizardry,
VD

3 comments:

Lainey-Paney said...

very nicely written.

sueznkasey said...

I hope your little one will share Harry's nickname as well "the boy who lived".

Adie said...

Well said.