My twelfth tattoo was done by Bryan Randolph at Spider Murphy’s in San Rafael, California.
It is a quote from the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. I’ve been wanting the tattoo for over a year, but after going through some really difficult times recently, it has come to mean more to me than it ever could have before.
He explains the meaning of it best: “You can only recognize your happiness against the background of suffering. If you have not suffered hunger, you do not appreciate having something to eat. If you have not gone through a war, you don’t know the value of peace. That is why we should not try to run away from one thing after another thing. Holding our suffering, looking deeply into it, we find a way to happiness.”
When people say these books are children’s books, as if to demean them, I balk. These books dealt with themes that adults do not fully understand or wish to. It dealt with racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, prejudice, and general ignorance. These books taught us that it doesn’t matter how you were raised, but that you get to choose to be kind, loyal, brave, and true. They taught us to be strong under the pressures of this world and to hold fast to what we know to be right. These books taught me so much, they changed me as a person. So just because they’re set against a fantastical backdrop with young protagonists does not mean that their value is any less real.
First book: Starts with the double murder of a pair of twenty-one year olds who were much missed and leaving their baby son a war orphan. A child growing up in abusive conditions that would give Cinderella the horrors. Dealing with peers and teachers who are bullies. The fickleness of fame (from the darling of Gryffindor to the outcast.) The idea that there are things worth fighting and dying for, spoken by the child protagonist. Three children promptly acting on that willingness to sacrifice their lives, and two of them getting injured doing so.
Second book: The equivalent of racism with the pro-pureblood attitude. Plot driven by an eleven year old girl being groomed and then used by a charming, handsome older male. The imbalance of power and resultant abuse inherent in slavery. Fraud perpetuated by stealing something very intimate.
Third book: The equivalent of ableism with a decent, kind and competant adult being considered less than human because he has an illness that adversely affects his behaviour at certain times. A justice system that is the opposite of just. Promises of removing an abused child from the abusive environment can’t always be kept. The innocent suffer while the guilty thrive.
Fouth book: More fickleness of fame. The privileged mistreating and undermining the underprivileged because they can. A master punishing a slave for his own misjudgment, and the slave blaming herself. A sports tournament which involves mortal risk being cheered by spectators. A wonderful young man being murdered simply because he was in the way. A young boy being tortured, humilated and nearly murdered.
Fifth book: PTSD in the teenage protagonist. Severe depression in the protagonist’s godfather, triggered by inherited mental health issues and being forced to stay in a house where abuse occured. A bigoted tyrant who lives to crush everyone under her heel, torturing a teenager for telling the truth in the name of the government (and trying to suck his soul out too). The discovery that your idols can have feet of clay after all. An effort to save the life of someone dear and precious actually costing that very same life. The loss of a father-figure and the resultant guilt.
Sixth book: The idea that a soul can be broken beyond repair. Drugs with the potential for date rape are shown as having achieved exactly that in at least one case, resulting in a pregnancy. Well-meaning chauvinism trying to control the love life of a young woman. Internalised prejuidce resulting in refusing the one you love, not out of lack of love but out of fear of tainting them. The mortality of those that seem powerful and larger than life.
Seventh book: Bad situations can get worse, to the point where even the privileged end up suffering and afraid. More internalised prejudice and
fearhysterical terror of tainting those you love. Self-sacrifice and the loss of loved ones, EVERYWHERE. Those who are bitter are often so with a reason. The necessity of defeating your inner demons, even though it’s never as cool as it sounds. Don’t underestimate those that are enslaved. Other people’s culture isn’t always like your own. Things often come full circle (war ending with the death of a dearly-loved pair of new parents and their orphaned baby son living with his dead mother’s blood relative instead of his young godfather). Even if ‘all is well’ the world is still imperfect, because it’s full of us brilliant imperfect humans.
So… still think that Harry Potter is a kid’s series with no depth?
You cannot read this and not reblog this.
i am literally in tears.
In complete tears
This isn’t always the case. Someone may not even have family, the reasons may not be so trivial, someone might know people care but that doesn’t mean they want to still continue to live with the pain.
I needed that.
I wonder what the world would be like if society were like the ones of our past. Not too far back mind you but around the time when Andy Griffith or The Brady Bunch were based.
Back when people were more focused on making their future brighter or when women and men had more respect for each other. For example:
What would we be like if it was still inappropriate for a women to wear skimpy clothes or even a lot of make-up? Would we have more self value by not feeling like we must wear these things to feel beautiful? Would we still have a sense of modesty instead of bikini’s for an eight year old?
What would we be like if men still had the same chivalrous beliefs regarding women? Would there be as high of a divorce rate? Would there be cheating couples?
I often sit here and think what would life be like if these sort of things existed. When respect, morals and values were things that were expected as oppose to little surprises when you run across someone who still has them.
What traveler thought they’d be in a situation that if they choose one path it would cause something special to disappear from their life. To stay on the same familiar path, where every crack is known, every scuff and cranny, and have grown fond of the journey. I never hoped that by staying on this familiar path in turn I would lose a very very special safe-heaven.
This familiar path became a dark ally where I didn’t know where to turn and whether or not to keep going. But then an incredible new meadow came before me. I haven’t experienced that much happiness in so long, so many new possibilities and this meadow always greeted me with warm grass and butterflies. It was beautiful, comforting, and warm; so fantastic that I never wanted to leave the meadow.
Once the fear of the familiar started to seep awat, a traveler stopped and asked me to come back to the path. It was no ordinary traveler for my heart remembered what it once felt like to beat solely for him. Surely to return to the path there’s a chance it won’t be a dark alley any longer, but the wonderful memory that still floats in my dreams.
How could I leave this incredible meadow? How could I trust the familiar to once again warm my heart through this journey and not crush it again? I turn to the meadow that has grown so dear to me, so very special that I needed it, fluttered a warm breeze across my face.
A tear rolled down my cheek as I turned to the traveler and took his hand once more; as I felt the presence of the warm-comforting meadow flutter it’s last loving breezes then turn cold.
I hope with all my heart that the magical warm meadow once again appears on my path. Except this time when I can stay within its warm loving embrace.