Humility in Victory
Harry Potter Mania.
I remember it sweeping the nation in the early 2000s. A story that swept up children and adults alike through its well written charm. There were long lines of people waiting for the books on their release days, not unlike what people do today for coveted electronics. Cookbooks naturally followed, with recipes named after either famous characters or certain foods highlighted in the books. And I also remember seeing the news talking about wand making classes for children.
I never read the books, though I hear they're good.
And I never watched the movies. Until just recently, that is. As in like a week or two ago.
I've discovered that people find statements like that at times offensive, for which I can only react accordingly
I can't say that I share the same zeal that many fans have for the movies, though I did find them enjoyable. I loved the characters, personalities, and chemistry between the characters. There was certainly a lot to appreciate, but maybe waiting until I'm nearly 40 wasn't the best move as far as getting into Harry Potter goes. Maybe what's really missing in this picture is me reading the books to give the full depth of the story a fair shot.
But what I can say, is there was one part in the movies that really, really stuck with me. And that was the story and lesson behind The Tale of the Three Brothers.
There were once three brothers who were traveling along a lonely winding road at twilight. In time, the brothers reached a river too treacherous to pass. But being learned in the magical arts, the three brothers simply waved their wands and made a bridge. Before they could cross, however, they found their path blocked by a hooded figure. It was Death. And he felt cheated. Cheated, because travelers would normally drown in the river.
But Death was cunning.
He pretended to congratulate the three brothers on their magic and said that each had earned a prize for having been clever enough to evade him. The oldest asked for a wand more powerful than any in existence, so Death fashioned him one from an Elder Tree that stood nearby. The second brother decided he wanted to humiliate Death even further, and asked for the power to recall loved ones from the grave. So Death plucked a stone from the river, and offered it to him. Finally, Death turned to the third brothers. A humble man, he asked for something that would allow him to go forth from that place without being followed by Death. And so it was that Death reluctantly handed over his own cloak of invisibility.
The first brother traveled to a distant village where, with the Elder Wand in hand, he killed a wizard with whom he had once quarreled. Drunk with the power that the Elder Wand had given him, he bragged of his invincibility. But that night, another wizard stole the wand and slit the brother's throat for good measure. And so Death took the first brother for his own.
The second brother journeyed to his home, where he took the stone and turned it thrice in hand. To his delight, the girl he'd once hoped to marry before her untimely death appeared before him. Yet soon, she turned sad and cold, for she did not belong in the mortal world. Driven mad with hopeless longing, the second brother killed himself so as to join her. And so Death took the second brother.
As for the third brother, Death searched many years, but was never able to find him. Only when he attained a great age did the youngest brother shed the cloak of invisibility and give it to his son. He then greeted Death as an old friend and went with him gladly, departing this life as equals.
I suppose there are a few lessons that could be gained from that story. But to me, more than anything, it spoke of humility in victory. Our victories and successes are the result of some variation and combination of skill and luck (among other things, many may argue). When we let pride or boastfulness blind ourselves from recognizing just how readily and easily things could have gone the other way, we lose track of just how much there really is to be thankful for in our victories. A victory absolutely deserves celebration and joy. But it is so important not to confuse that with the aforementioned, poisoned feelings that often sew bad blood and burn the bridges we still may be crossing or later return to. Because even -no, especially, in adversity we may find opportunity for friendships, respect, and newfound alliances through the humility we carry.
Take joy in and celebrate your victories. But also remember to be humble and thankful. A wise man once said "There's always a bigger fish". And as I myself always like to say, life has a funny way of happening. That bigger fish could be just around the corner.