As we approach the end of July, we approach a day that I (and millions around the world) hold near to my heart. I realized I haven’t written a blog post on this topic, which is odd given its irreplaceable significance in my everyday. Although it may seem childish and nerdy, it provides me with a constant moral compass and serves as my way of life.
July 31st, 1980. Harry Potter is born to James Potter and Lily Evans Potter.
When I tell people I’m a huge fan of Harry Potter, I know that I am being perceived as the person who read the second half of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and called myself a fan. But my connection to Harry Potter has brought so much depth and purpose to my life that, I believe, can only be understood by fellow fans who have stayed by Harry and grown alongside him.
I picked up my first Harry Potter book in the second grade. My Grade 2/3 split classroom held 20-minute reading periods before our lessons, where reading time would commenced with the process of finding my chosen book for the day. My selection process was easy: the fatter the book, the better. One fateful day, I happened to reach a new area of the shelf and I reached for a considerably thick yellow-bound one. It was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, emblazoned with a scarlet Phoenix against sky and flame. I flipped open the book, and in 20 minutes skimmed just enough to take away that there were three best friends, one antagonist and people waving magic wands. Fast forward to March 2020, when I picked up Harry Potter again. This time though, I was fully enthralled by Harry’s destiny and his journey never towards becoming a hero, but maintaining his will to live. Since then, I have read the series through 7 or 8 times with no plans on stopping.
My love for the series, though, is odd. Because as a woman in science, I must painfully acknowledge that pieces of wood in this world cannot act as they do in the wizarding world. The binding laws of physics don’t allow for objects to be summoned with the flick of a wand, nor for one item to be able to carry out every task one desires. In this, I recognize that I am stuck in limbo between scientific-based fact and imagination. Though I do believe the intersection between lofty ideas and STEM research is important, as it allows scientists to access ideas they might feel are restricted from their view.
The fight for justice in the wizarding world also never fails. Discrimination, prejudice, patriarchy, disability, supposed race-based dominance and more social issues are tackled in difficult conversations from one person to another. It was on this topic that we got the famous line from Albus Dumbledore: “Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.” The distance between ourselves and a paranormal universe was closed seeing that the issues facing witches and wizards in the series are ones we too fight today.
Seeing the Harry Potter books bleed into my existing passions, like STEM and advocacy, showed me how interconnected every aspect of my life is. As I have added Harry Potter to my list of passions this past year and a half, I did so not only because I love venturing with my wizarding family but also because of all they never knew they taught me. Hence, I like to refer to Harry Potter characters as if they are real, living people and their experiences as moments in my history. While I am saddened that a wizarding career is not in my future, I am grateful for all I have taken from the novels as I continue to flip the pages.