Zen and the Art of Harry Potter

The Death Eaters came to Seattle last week. Ice and snow walled us in our home for close to week. That’s what sent us to the basement to watch ALL the Harry Potter films out on dvd – one through six. Jake is also mostly through re-reading the entire series. When he is done we will celebrate and go see number seven in the theater.

When you hear a twelve-year-old read passages aloud from the books or when you watch the films back to back, you realize Albus Dumbledore is a cross between Allen Ginsberg and Alan Watts. It’s just that he has a flowing white beard and stringy Ted Nugent hair.

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends” says Dumbledore in Sorcercer’s Stone. In the film Prisoner of Azkaban, Albus drops this one on Harry: “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” My favorite by far is “It is our choices, Harry that show us what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

The dream of snow days provided us with some magnificent timing. Lily and Jake spent the week soaking up these words and so much more. As a family we discussed the genius of J.K. Rowling. The woman is brilliant on how she packages her sweet child peddled wisdom. The books provide a key to a kid’s heart and forces them to take the light of a story and shine it into their own life.

In first grade Jake was invited to a Harry Potter themed birthday party. He had not read one of the books yet. He missed the party when he came down with a fever so Lisa read him Sorcerer’s Stone. He promptly devoured the remaining books. Jake has read the entire series twice. Just like Daniel Radcliffe, my son has made so many radical changes. He has gone from a tot to a tween in an instant – just like Daniel Radcliffe transformed in front of our eyes on the covers of Entertainment Weekly.

Jake spent the two years being terrorized by several Draco Malfoys. Believe me, he knows the fear and resentment Harry Potter feels toward Draco and his Wild Bunch. “Dad, why do people act the way they do?” Jake asked me after reading the third book. I didn’t come up with an easy answer right away.

There is a terrific Zen saying “Death and Time inspires one to act now as time is passing by and life is a precious opportunity to awaken”. There is nothing like giant spiders and enormous snakes to bring kids straight up to the reality of death. Lily, at ten, can’t watch spiders without running out of the room. Jake became her compass, having freshly read each book. He would tee-up the scenes, pause the film and insure her safe passage out the room. I don’t know where Jake’s heart is but I know his love is everywhere. I am convinced that Harry Potter has been one of his guides.

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