I am obsessed with the television show “The Bachelor”. Well actually, the entire franchise and any knockoffs. I have been since those dating shows started airing on MTV & VH1 – Rock of Love, I Love New York, etc etc. I took in every episode with baited breath, and even now I anxiously await for the next week, or the next season to see what is going to happen next. For those of you who aren’t familiar with “The Bachelor” a single man (usually a reject from the previous season of “The Bachelorette”) gets 25 women to vie for his love and attention on national television in pretty dresses and exotic locales with the goal that in the end they will fall in love and commit to each other for the rest of their lives. The show films in about six weeks. Yep, you heard that right, the commitment to finding your true love only lasts six weeks. And yet, millions of Americans every week are also committed to tuning in so they can have their say in who they think this person that they only know from television, should commit to. It’s this huge thing. And yet somehow we seem surprised or angry when they pick the “wrong” person, or the commitment doesn’t stand. Or what happens when you commit to something or someone, but in the end they don’t commit back?
I’ve been anxiously waiting to do this project since November. I’ve always sucked at commitments, but this is what I hope to prove to myself that I don’t have to suck at commitments. I can commit! I stayed up until midnight to start reading, and I read commitment all over this chapter. Starting with the Dursleys.
The first line of this chapter comments on how proud the Dursley’s are to be normal, or that they appear to be normal. Anything that isn’t normal they ignore, or condemn as not real. Have you ever committed to something so much, and so publicly that maybe as things start to change or when you start to change, you feel like you can’t admit that you were wrong in your commitment? I feel like it’s a pride thing, and maybe this is also my personality. You don’t want to see that the reality you committed yourself to actually isn’t reality (for example, me on my couch believing that Hillary was going to pull out a win). I feel like this is what happens to the Dursleys. It makes me wonder how many things go unnoticed by us because we’re so committed to living in our reality, or the reality we wish was actual reality.
I also noticed, as someone who has always wanted to “fit in”, the commitment it must have taken for the wizards to not even care what the muggles thought of them, to just be open about their clothing and their celebrating (albeit carelessly). I also wonder where the Ministry of Magic was in all of this. Following laws could probably be seen as a type of commitment, and none of these people were following the Statute of Secrecy. Do we sometimes lax on our commitments when we feel like something life altering has happened? Is this okay? Who determines life altering?
We’re also introduced to Minerva McGonagall this chapter, and I’m just reminded of how much I utterly love this woman. She is absolute goals when it comes to who I want to be when I’m old. McGonagall has sat herself on a stone wall all day just watching and observing. She’s also pretty clueless as to what is happening because when Dumbledore explains where Harry is going, she’s horrified. And yet, she sat herself on that wall and didn’t sleep, literally committed to just keeping watch. A Litsy user brought up in our discussion that this also shows a commitment to Lily and James, that she and Dumbledore would take this much effort into making sure that their son was protected, and how it reminded her of all the amazing teachers who go above and beyond to do this for their students every day which I’d never even thought of. However, I love this idea of McGonagall, through her mourning, keeping watch, and making sure her students child would be protected and safe.
I also would like to point out Dumbledore didn’t expect to see McGonagall there which makes me wonder what kind of boss he is if on one of Hogwarts biggest celebrations it doesn’t even come to his mind that one of his Heads of House is gone. Best boss? Worst boss? Commitment to letting teachers do their own things? Who knows.
I also saw commitment in Dumbledore calling Voldemort by his name instead of “You-Know-Who”. He says he’s been trying for 11 years to no avail. That takes serious commitment, when you really believe in something, you’re vocal about it and making no progress. I also found it interesting that in this same conversation, McGonagall mentions how every wizarding person will know his name, and it brought up this idea of a commitment in the wizarding culture of passing down stories whether orally or written. The wizarding world has such a rich history and I really don’t think the kids get most of that information from History of Magic with Professor Binns. There must be this inherent value on passing down the history of this world orally.
I imagine wizarding campfires now where they tell the stories of when Voldemort was on the rise and the story builds and builds to the point where a baby, just a little baby, saves the world, and I imagine the smiles and sighs of relief as they find out that even the most unsuspecting of things can save the world. Reminds me of baby Jesus, in a manger, or even Moses, as his mother launched him in the river in a basket of reeds. Both little babies, both of whom saved their people (in different ways, and one more so than the other).
My final observation came in the form of Hagrid, weeping over this little baby. At first, and I think as a child it felt comical. This giant man, weeping over this kid, and when I read it through without thinking, I thought of it as a commitment to Harry, which it absolutely is, but I also see it as a commitment to Lily and James. There’s no doubt in my mind that Hagrid knew Lily and James when they were expecting Harry, saw Harry as an infant before he was the toddler he’s crying over in this scene. And I totally get it. I’ve been living with a family in Los Angeles who I’ve known for a few years. They have five kids. Their older two I’ve known since they were 3 and 5 (they’re now 5 and 7), and they just had triplet baby girls who just turned 1. I love those kids like they’re my own. In fact one day when I was sitting with the boys and we were talking. I told them I loved them and they told me they loved me more (our usual fight), before I told them that nothing they could do would ever make me love them less. And I realized how much I meant it. It helped me realize how much God means it too. I made a commitment to them that day though, that no matter what I would love them. And this commitment will be easy for me to keep (I think). I wonder if this is how Hagrid saw his commitment too. If maybe in that moment of grief and despair, the feeling of love swelled up, where he realized that nothing Harry could ever do would make him love him less.
I was supposed to launch with my missions team today. I had committed to the organization for over a year and three weeks before this day, and the day after I met my second fundraising goal, committing me to going on the trip, they changed their end of the commitment. Why does it always hurt more when you finally wholeheartedly commit to something and then the other person or party says “just kidding”? I’m having a hard time committing to God right now. I feel like I did commit a lot to him and I got it thrown back in my face. I know that this isn’t the right mindset. But I’m making a commitment to myself to be honest. I’ve filled my Paperwhite with books on “Be with Jesus for 5 minutes a day” because I suck at praying (which is a commitment in itself). However, by forcing me to examine my faith every day, in Harry Potter and in a theme, I’m hoping that commitment becomes easier, and more natural. And that eventually, it becomes like Hagrid, who knew in his heart, that it didn’t even take effort to make that commitment anymore, it just was.
(I borrowed this theme from the ever awesome Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. You can check out their podcast here. I also want to thank all the Littens who are participating in this with me. You can find our discussion on this topic here. )