What is it about Harry Potter that's captured our hearts and imagination? After both of his parents had been killed by Voldemort (He Who Must Not Be Named), the darkest and most feared wizard of all, the baby Harry defied the odds and lived. He was left on the doorstep of his aunt and uncle, who raised him grudgingly and without affection. On his 11th birthday, Harry is astonished to find out that he, too, is a wizard and begins his journey of learning at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He soon discovers that his reputation as the "boy who lived" precedes him.
At Hogwarts, he finds his home and makes true friends who stick with him no matter what. He's helped by the wisdom and kindness of his mentor and headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, and other instructors. Through all of the treacherous threats and dark arts that are thrown at him, he remains an innocent at heart and never succumbs to that in which he's immersed while constantly defending himself and his friends.
We root for him because on some level he is the best part of us. He's hugely courageous and loyal and has an ability to love regardless of his cruel upbringing and early deprivation. He realizes his potential as a great wizard while at the same time going through the growing pains like all adolescents and teens.
He is at the same time ordinary and extraordinary, humble and proud, accepting and defiant. He takes on the responsibility of ridding the world of the evil Voldemort and at the same time wonders when the girl he likes will notice him. He experiences disappointments and huge loss but also great triumph. He endures grave danger and injury but rallies through his sheer determination and the love and support of his friends. He is grace under pressure and keeps his focus on his goal. He learns to believe in himself.
Now, what has all this to do with wellness? The imagination is powerful -- and we are what we imagine. Each of us has as great a potential in us as Harry does and deserves to blossom.
It's possible to transcend shaky beginnings. If we were deprived as children, now is the time to give that inner child unconditional love and encouragement. The world needs your special gift.
CONTACT JANET BERG to suggest topics for this column: firstname.lastname@example.org