‘Greatness inspires envy. Envy engenders spite. Spite spawns lies.’ – Lord Voldemort
Ah yes, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is, occasionally, He-Who-Must-Be-Quoted. Because young Tom Riddle was many things, but he was never stupid.
As bleak as his worldview is, there’s an important takeaway: every single person has light and dark inside of them (a movie quote, just in case you were wondering why we didn’t include that one), and one of humanity’s most fatal flaws is envy.
Unless you yourself is doing well, it can be hard to be truly happy for someone who succeeds. When people around you land their dream jobs, start families and buy fancy things while you work hard and see no payoff, your smile starts to get a little strained. Maybe you start to wish that things wouldn’t always go as smoothly for these people.
Well, that just means you’re human. The difference between you and Voldemort (aside from 100% more nose) is that you can take a step back, breathe, and ground yourself by remembering this quote. (Or, alternatively, the Star Wars version).
‘It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness. Nothing more.’ – Albus Dumbledore
No one knows what happens when you die. Some prefer to keep it simple — our brains stop working and we cease to exist — while others believe in an afterlife, some kind of eternal space in which our souls can rest.
The thing is though, it’ll happen to everyone eventually. Death is the one certainty in life, but ironically, it is the uncertainty of it all that is so terrifying. It’s impossible to imagine that we’ll just end.
But since it’s inevitable, why do we waste our mortal lives being afraid of it? Dumbledore understood this better than anyone. As he said to Harry in another fantastic quote, “To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”
‘It does not do to dwell on dreams, Harry, and forget to live.’ – Albus Dumbledore
One of the most iconic quotes in the series, we feel like this is especially important in the age of digital media, where we jump from one screen to the next, living our lives in webs of fiction.
It can be comforting, sometimes, to put off real life. To stay safe in our imagined realities, dreaming about how things might one day be. But if we don’t work towards our goals, we’ll probably never reach them.
Life is out there, waiting for us beyond the pages of our favorite novel. Doesn’t mean that novel can’t inform us about how best to live our lives, though.
‘What’s comin’ will come, an’ we’ll meet it when it does.’ – Rubeus Hagrid
Ah Hagrid, ever the pragmatist. A solid and constant presence in the series, Harry (and the reader) could always rely on the Hogwarts gamekeeper to offer some good old-fashioned logic.
We spend a lot of time worrying about the future. In fact, we are genetically engineered to always be looking ahead: where’s our next meal coming from? Where are we going to find shelter? How are we going to find a mate?
We all need a Hagrid in our lives to calm us down, and remind us that time moves whether we want it to or not. Some things are simply out of our hands, and the best thing we can do is work to make the most of what we can control, and let the rest of it simply be.
‘Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry. But why on earth should that mean that it is not real?’ – Albus Dumbledore
We end, of course, with the most defining quote of the Harry Potter series. In Philosopher’s Stone, Dumbledore warned us against the temptation to dwell on our dreams, but by Deathly Hallows, he had deemed our dreams worthy of dwelling on — because our imaginations are treasure troves full of wondrous worlds, there for us to ponder when we need a safe space.
Like Harry, we were now getting ready to leave Hogwarts behind forever. We’d spent the last seven (ish) years of our lives within these castle walls, going on adventures with Harry, Ron and Hermione, discovering ourselves through these amazing books… and now, it was time to graduate.
We went into the world knowing that it all happened. It was real. We all went to Hogwarts.
Thank you, J.K. Rowling.