Sunday, March 4, 2012

Holding ourselves back - part II (or how I became a Harry Potter fan)

Harry Potter.

You love it, or you don't. But if you don't, why don't you?

I was in middle school when the Harry Potter books started becoming famous, and at the time, I was completely opposed to them. Harry Potter? What a dork! A book about magical kids and witches and wizards? Bah! What a stupid, juvenile thing! I was so high above that.

The first movie came out and it was ridiculous.
The second movie came out and it was slightly better...

The third movie? Well...

When I saw Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, I found myself with an uncomfortable dose of cognitive dissonance. I knew that Harry Potter was a joke, but this movie ruined everything! If Harry Potter was so stupid, why did I like this movie so much?!

Then I started thinking honestly...

In time, I realized that I had no honest reason to not like Harry Potter. I didn't like it because, because... it was a rejection of something everyone loved! Well, after the movie, I gave this up as foolishness and quickly immersed myself into the next two books, finishing both of them before week's end. Overnight, I became a proud Harry Potter fan. A few months later, I was in line at Media Play (for those of you who remember it) with all the other crazies, blissfully waiting for the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I engulfed it, savoring every delightful detail of teen emotion and struggle. I was a Harry Potter fan, and I couldn't have been happier.

I bring up this story because it illustrates clearly the idea of holding ourselves back. In this case, I held myself back because of a prideful desire to stand apart from the crowd. Little did I know that by doing so, I was keeping myself from happy times. More significantly, reading the Harry Potter books rekindled a joy of reading that had been struggling for many years. After reading the Harry Potter books, I went on to read over thirty more books that year. Only when I gave up my desire to be seen as someone who stood apart was I able to enjoy what everyone else was enjoying.

Now, maybe you don't love the Harry Potter books, and that's okay, as long as it's for a reason other than resisting the popular. And be honest. In my case, I could have used a hundred different critiques to justify my disdain for Harry Potter, but they would have all been contrived, since I had already made up my mind on the issue. It is my experience that things are most often not as bad as they appear to be under "objective scrutiny." When we look for faults, we will find them.

I think we spend so much energy worrying about the objective quality of our activities that we have a hard time enjoying anything at all! For me, life became much more enjoyable and free when I gave up worrying how my tastes affected the way I was seen. By giving up this aspect of pride, we are free to see things honestly and try new and rewarding things.

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