Dumbledore. One of those rare characters whose complexity is rivaled only by their seemingly inexhaustible crater of wisdom.
Risky at the best of times, I’ve been thinking a lot lately. About how to apply the grand sentiments of a world-saver, like Dumbledore, to an ordinary life.
Put it this way – I’m a Hufflepuff. (The protests of Potter-lovers and fellow Hufflepuffs, against the simplicity of the view that Hufflepuffs are somehow less something, are angry and grating, as uncomfortable as ripping fingernails apart).
“Imagine being in Hufflepuff, I think I’d leave, wouldn’t you?” The immortal words of Draco Malfoy. As much as it is in a Hufflepuff’s nature to argue that each house is exactly, precisely as important as the other, there can be no denying that Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff get left behind in the race.
The question I am left with is this: how do the people who blend into the background deal with statements like Dumbledore’s. You see, we have a choice. Harry Potter and his friends had to choose good. Those of us occupying unmentioned spaces in the books, ignored in corridors as Harry Potter and his friends rushed past, not receiving an invite to DA meetings and blurring into the crowds of colour at Quidditch matches – well, we had the advantage of an outsiders view.
Does that mean that, even before we got round to considering what might be the ‘right’ course of action (were we For Voldemort or Against), there was a slightly different ‘easy’ option – namely, not taking part at all. What’s to stop us embracing our nameless, faceless personas when the realisation finally dawns – this usually follows closing a book back into its neat rectangle and putting it on the side as sleep inevitably wins again – that we aren’t actually Harry, Ron or Hermione. And we never will be. (I’m sorry, I know it hurts).
This post is in favour of a life not spent doing nothing, just because we can, just because we are not protagonists in a world famous book.Without further ado, because there has been some quite substantial ado, this is my list of things I find most difficult not to duck out of and in which that that is ‘right’ somehow eludes me most often. Fighting these habits, I believe, is how we can apply Dumbledore’s words to a life most ordinary.
- Getting angry. People get tetchy when you get angry. Not necessarily getting angry at other people, more your opinions are coursed through with strains of anger. I have been told off more times than I can count – by strangers, by friends, but my family always hurts the most – about my feminist views. No, Mum, I don’t enjoy having my arse slapped from a moving car, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop walking along the main road to get into town. Brexit was another vote of no confidence in my opinions. My boyfriend told me to stop complaining; get on with my life. A valid point, I suppose. But if no one ever got angry about politics, if everyone decided to ‘just get on with it’, our world history would be very different and I’m fairly certain it would not be nearly as rich or interesting. There would be no Les Mis, for one. Anger equates to caring and caring leads to action. It’s very easy to sit down when people tell you to stop having opinions, but we all know that Alexander Hamilton would be telling us to “rise up”.
- Pushing yourself. Acceptable will always be an option. Schools will always push for the C grades they need and no further. Unis for the 2:1. But what if I worked for an extra hour each day. What if I turned the TV off while I’m supposed to be reading this essay. This book was probably written to be read, rather than stared at. What ifs are as unavoidable as illuminated road signs on a nighttime drive. Either we pretend not to notice them and stare intently at the road, concentrating very hard on driving in a straight line. Or, we could take notice. Just this once. And, I guess, that way, we would be a whole lot more prepared for the roundabouts looming, as yet unseen in the distance.
- Grumbling. A pet peeve of mine, yet something I still find myself doing – often. The irony of complaining about complaining is not quite strong enough to stop me doing it. Sigh, and off we go again. This one adds the element of fear into doing what is ‘right’, because I’m tempted to theorise that we only grumble to put off action. For how long do we have to grumble that again no one put the bins out, until we actually do it ourselves. And if we continue to moan while we’re doing that, it’s probably to block out the smell or something.
- Treating your body right. Flurries of excuses circle in my sleepy brain every morning. I can’t possibly go for a run because the shower’s broken, because it’s too hot outside – and I’m sure I’d promised myself a day off around about now. The excuses get weaker as the days pass. The slight, half-hearted squidge I give the lone kiwi in the fruit bowl is absolutely enough to tell me it is definitely gone off – ah well, just have to have another brownie instead. Fine, I had two. This cycle, again. Unfortunately these cycles tend to last significantly more time than the health cycles. Probably because it’s easy. The number one gear on the bike instead of the number six. Only, number six would give me a much flatter stomach and a much nicer bum, I’m sure.
- “Short as time is it is made still shorter by the careless waste of time”. Victor Hugo never spoke truer words, and that is saying something. Yes, I may have watched all episodes of Jane the Virgin this Summer, and yes, it was amazing, but was it worth 33 hours of my time over 4 days? God I want to say yes, but no, it probably was not. Jane the Virgin was definitely the best of it (at least she inspired me to get writing again), I have also scrutinised all episodes of 24 hours in A&E, devoured Suits and forayed into Sex Box before deciding that wasn’t really for me. When things got really boring, I’m ashamed to admit my phone would make an appearance, balanced precariously above my iPad so I could gaze at both screens with one eye on each. Careless, absolutely. A waste of time, even more so.
All this makes me sound like the worst, laziest person. Dumbledore was right. The time has come to choose between what is right and what is easy. Help a girl out in the comments and let me know what habits you find yourself slipping into with ease, even though you know you shouldn’t. Maybe we can all feel like good-intentioned, albeit currently sub-par people together. However, one thing is certain: choosing easy stops here.