The following is an excerpt from the Movie Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II.
Albus Dumbledore: Harry, you brave, brave man. Let us walk.
Harry Potter: Professor, what is that?
Albus Dumbledore: Something beyond either of our help. A part of Voldemort, sent here to die.
Harry Potter: And exactly where are we?
Albus Dumbledore: I was going to ask you that. Where would you say that we are?
Harry Potter: Well, it looks like King’s Cross Station, only cleaner, and without all the trains.
Albus Dumbledore: King’s Cross, is that right? This is, as they say, your parting. I expect you now realize that you and Lord Voldemort had been connected by something other than fate, since that night in Godric’s Hollow all those years ago.
Harry Potter: So it’s true then, isn’t it, Sir? A part of him lives inside me?
Albus Dumbledore: Did. It was just destroyed many moments ago by none other than Lord Voldemort himself. You were the Horcux he never meant to make, Harry.
Harry Potter: I have to go back, haven’t I?
Albus Dumbledore: Oh, that’s up to you.
Harry Potter: I have a choice?
Albus Dumbledore: Oh, yes. We’re in King’s Cross, you say? I think if you so desired, you’d be able to board a train.
Harry Potter: And where would it take me?
Albus Dumbledore: On.
Harry Potter: Voldemort has the Elder Wand.
Albus Dumbledore: True.
Harry Potter: And the snake’s still alive.
Albus Dumbledore: Yes.
Harry Potter: And I’ve nothing to kill it with.
Albus Dumbledore: Help will always be given at Hogwarts, Harry, to those who ask for it. I’ve always prized myself on my ability to turn a phrase. Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it. But I would, in this case, amend my original statement to this: “Help would always be given at Hogwarts to those who deserve it.” Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living. And above all, those who live without love.
Harry Potter: Professor, my mother’s Patronus was a doe, wasn’t it? It’s the same as Professor Snape’s. It’s curious, don’t you think?
Albus Dumbledore: Actually, if I think about it, it doesn’t seem curious at all. I’ll be going now, Harry. [turns to leave]
Harry Potter: Professor? Is this all real? Or is it just happening inside my head?
Albus Dumbledore: Of course it’s happening inside your head, Harry. Why should that mean that it’s not real?
Harry Potter: Professor, what shall I do? Professor?
Last night my son and I were watching our calm-down show (our nightly unwinding, that typically is a Harry Potter movie) and it was our second or third night watching so the movie was nearing the end. He had fallen asleep, under my arm in my nook. He was heavily breathing, not labored, but as if he was expelling the stress of his day. He was gone, off in a land of his choosing where the rules were as he would see fit.
I sat there watching the movie and the above scene unfolded. In case you haven’t seen the movie or read the books it is at a very climactic point.
I feel like this conversation between Harry and Dumbledore is much deeper, full of layers and meaning. While the setting is fairly prolific I feel like this is almost a summation of the entire series. Here in this conversation, we are realizing a great many things.
We always have a choice, we can stop, we can end the pain and the suffering through a multitude of ways or, we can go back into the fire. We have the ability to overcome through persistence, through desire, through hard work. Harry knows that the odds are stacked against him. That Voldemort holds the most powerful wand in the world, a wand that will never be beaten. Harry knows that the last part of Voldemort’s soul is tied directly to Nagini (the snake by his side) and he has no way that he can think of to kill it. At this point, it would be much safer and easier for Harry to take that train, on.
Then comes the almost whimsical response of Dumbledore. His character really can weave words into a tapestry of linguistic beauty, presented smoothly and subtly like a warm blanket on our slightly chilly sleeping body.
“Words are our most inexhaustible source of magic.” They are, words are the foundation of everything. They are what will rally people together in a time of need, they can bring someone off of the brink of a breakdown. They can create the foundation of a comeback that can barely be described in words. Words are powerful and they can travel very, very, far. Words make their way to others, always. They will be twisted by others to suit their own needs and desires, they can be misunderstood, misrepresented, and even changed.
That is fine because they are capable of inflicting and remedying injury, you just need to speak them. You need to go to the source, not a second-hand or third-hand source.
“Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living. And above all, those who live without love.”
This is a very interesting phrase. Why should we not pity them? Well, I guess we can look at this in two different ways, either they have gone on to something better, the idea of a heaven or an afterlife and they are in a better place, free from the challenge of life, the despair of the unknown, the fear. On the flip side maybe there is nothing, just infinite darkness, a sea of solitude. In that case, they are gone and then your pity is wasted on them.
Why though should we pity the living? Probably because the living are so wasteful of this resource, life. We squander life, it is pissed away on worry, doubt, regret, anger, fear, and what others think.
No one has it all together or all figured out, maybe the three-year-old does, but the world will steal that and destroy it because the child doesn’t know better to resist the fools surrounding them. It may take that child decades to get back to that original thought, that idea from almost 40 years ago. The sad part is that many people will never get there, they will never surpass the silliness and fruitlessness of those thoughts and will spend their very precious, finite time worrying about others and things that will keep them from their own success.
Most importantly pity those who live without love. Those poor souls, those who live with hate, fear, and anger. These people do not seek understanding or reason, they cannot because of where they are coming from. It may not be their doing. It could be from their upbringing. Love them anyway, they need it more than anyone else. they need it to help them heal, to help them see that everything is not as bad as they once thought.
The connections of others to you and you to them should never be seen as being weird, unlikely, or odd. We are all connected at a level that we will never be able to fully understand. We will always be intimately connected to others. Sometimes it is in a good way, sometimes it is in a way that will require us to learn from them. There is no bad way. I always tell people that the worst you can learn in a situation is something that you do not want to do or be a part of. That can be a valuable, sometimes expensive, sometimes necessary lesson.
What is real? I have no clue. I will not make this too deep but perception is reality. What we experience happening even you reading this right now is a memory of the past. Our memories of the past are imperfect and they will always be skewed to our personal bias. We add words, change the intention of words with inflection, paint a different scenario, amongst many other things. Just because it is happening in our head doesn’t mean that it cannot be true. How many times do you play out a scenario in your head and then attempt to do it? How many times are you correct? How many times is it worse? How many times is it better?
I felt that this conversation shared some valuable wisdom that many people may overlook. That there is truly something for everyone in this exchange. I encourage you to keep an eye open to what is happening around, to take a step back with a broader view, one that allows you to breathe deeply, one that allows time to slow around you. We get one of these lives, just one, we cannot come back like Harry, we cannot cast a magic spell to live again but we do not need to. This life is magic, it is luck, it is wonderful.
We need to focus on what we have, we should be challenged to be better not to push others around us down but instead to elevate those below us. We are all in this together whether you want to admit it or not, don’t be that thing that is beyond help like Voldemort was in this story, the world is there to help all of those who ask for and deserve it.
It took me two days to finish writing this but I will simply go back to the start, my son under my arm fast asleep. It was not comfortable for me but it was for him. There will come a day when I will pick him up for the last time. There will come a day where me asking for a kiss will be met with a look of embarrassment. A day will come where it will be the last time I hold him.
This is all shorter than we realize. Embrace the love around us. Spend your energy there. That is where all the magic of life is, in these simple seemingly innocuous moments.