The start of the Olympics brings on a flurry of inspiration – motivating commercials, rousing playlists, and hardcore workouts from the athletes themselves are just a few of the fruits from this exciting time. Thanks to the recent P&G ads, I have been thinking a lot about who has pushed me, inspired me, and taught me how to fight for success. Of course, there is my mom (enough for an entirely other blog) and a few past coaches, but there is someone else entirely who has changed the course of my life–and it would be none other than my real life Dumbledore.
Well, his muggle name is Tom Hill, but the students of my university unconsciously thought of him as the beloved, whimsical headmaster of Hogwarts. Half-moon glasses? Check. Long, white beard? Check. Unexplainable sense that he has omniscient powers? Check, check. The only noticeable differences were that Tom spoke Scots instead of Mermish, taught Old English instead of Ancient Runes, and retold Arthurian legends instead of Beadle the Bard tales. He is a self-proclaimed Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanatic and a lover of Faerie tales – True Blood should be next on his list. While I don’t quite know what his favorite Berty Bott’s Every Flavor Bean would be, I would be inclined to say that any would do – as they are the perfect size for pelting sleeping students.
From the beginning, I was the moth and he was the flame: I absolutely devoured everything he taught; Norse, Scottish, and British literatures never seemed so interesting to anyone younger than 70. Yet, as Tom has often repeated, the ability of speaking Old French will not give you the salary of Wallstreet. Or… will it?
In Icelandic myths, I came across Fenrir, the wolf that would bring about the end of the world; in Latin, I avidly studied Cerebus, the three headed dog now known as Fluffy; in Greek myth, I found that Hermione was Minerva’s daughter… no wonder the two are so alike in the series! JK Rowling was not Tolkien – she was not a philologist who created a linguistic fantasy. She was a medievalist who combined tropes, myths, characters, and constellations into a modern story – a story that was relatable to the current technological audience. Incredible. And, she made a lot of money, too, as a byproduct.
For me, Tom brought these threads together and helped me find a path of study throughout college. He was the one to convince me that I would not be disillusioned by studying literature – I was convinced that I would begin to hate my favorite friends characters – and could actually get a job after college. Instead, he sparked a two year in-depth study of literature on two continents which has pushed me to be a more well-rounded writer than I ever imagined.So, as I think about the Olympics and watch all these incredible athletes pushing themselves to new heights, I love to imagine who their inspirations were – first coaches, parents, or a teacher who passed on their love of the game. Who is it for you? Harry Potter related or not, let’s pause to stoke this fire and remember that spark that has put us into action. Let the games begin!