In a few days time I will be graduating from university. I will be turning another page in my book, concluding a chapter, and drafting a new one. It was appropriate then, that I ended up watching the third Harry Potter film today. Unintentional as our choice was, Harry Potter and Prisoner of Azkaban, of course, is all about time. Old generations mingle with the new generation to face both the past and the uncertainties of the future. And isn’t that where I am? Standing at a precipice in which I can celebrate with the old but now prepare to brave a new world?
Watching the film, I couldn’t help but think ahead to a time when I have children. Harry Potter is the defining literary and cinematic work of my generation’s coming of age. How will my children interact with this series when they are growing up? Will it be the same? J.K. Rowling taught us many things through these well-loved characters and enthralling world of magic. In Prisoner of Azkaban (PoA), there is a moment towards the end of the book that reads as follows, “‘What we need,’ said Dumbledore slowly, and his light blue eyes moved from Harry to Hermione, ‘is more time.’” (Don’t we all?)
The theme of time is demonstrated in many ways throughout the novel/film. In the book, the diction carefully draws attention to time through choice words, such as how Dumbledore slowly speaks to Harry and Hermione. Hermione herself comes to represent the struggle against time in her attempt to do more than is possible in a day. We see how fighting time is futile and doing so only makes one grow haggard – exhausted mentally and physically, appearing to look older.
Sirius Black spent 12 years in prison as an innocent man, and his character, while acutely aware of this, forces us to confront the issue of time that we will never get back. Harry’s father’s friends give us a lesson in the benefits of getting answers from the past, while at the same time serve as a warning not to get stuck living in the past.
Then there is timing – a different sort of theme on time. The notion of waiting for the right moment to act, of patience and awareness of time is brought out in various instances throughout the book. Most obvious in the film is the time-travel adventure Harry and Hermione go on. They can’t save Buckbeak until the Prime Minister has seen him, giving them a 60 second window of opportunity. Getting Sirius out of the castle and racing back to the Hospital Wing must all be done with very precise timing at the opportune moments.
The themes of the past and present are there, but so is that of the future. For all of her bumbling, Professor Trewlaney actually has a very difficult job and shows us that predicting the future is a very complicated business. Dumbledore brings this to Harry’s attention when he says, “The consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed.”
Sitting there watching the film, all of these representations on the theme of time got me thinking about our own time. The only certainty in our lives is that all things must come to an end (circle of life, etc. etc.). Fighting against time, trying to recreate the past or dream too far into the future is counterproductive to living a full life in the present. We strive to do our best, but if we take off more than we can chew we will only be harming ourselves by trying to force more hours into the day than exist. As with everything else in life, time requires a delicate balance.
Sometimes I feel that if I only had had more time, I could have done so much more. Especially as I am about to close the door on my college life and separate geographically from friends who have become so close and dear to me. But instead of living in the past, PoA has reinforced the idea that the true take away from that line of thinking is to treasure time because it is something precious. Right now I’m searching for a job, and despite all of the uncertainties it’s all about timing. Finding the right thing at the right moment, and being there when those elements come together.
I am a legacy at Miami University, my parents and grandparents went to this school when they were my age. I will always enjoy the camaraderie this has inspired, and hearing about the ways in which Oxford was different back then and yet remains similar in so many other ways today. Perhaps one of my own children will decide to go to Miami University, and who knows what changes time will have brought to the campus by then? (If only I had the ability to leave them something as cool as a Marauders Map as my own legacy!)
Yes, time is certainly an interesting concept and one that has always been a point of fascination for humans. So as my legs carry me up that stretch of lawn to get my diploma and away from the campus and people I have come to know so well in the past four years, I will strive to make the most of my time with a promise to live in the present. That, I believe, is the best we thing we can do.
Thanks for reading, cheers! Until then…