Sometimes I think this blog should really be called The Wizarding World of Dealing with an Anxiety Disorder and Preaching Mental Health in Law School.
Snape’s grudge is one that will truly unfold itself as the series progresses, but in this chapter we see it really start to be revealed to readers. The chapter begins with Harry and Ron visiting Hagrid. Hagrid tells them they should be nicer to Hermione and talks about his upcoming trial with the hippogriff Buckbeak. The next day is a trip to Hogsmeade, Harry sneaks out after almost being caught by Professor Snape, slips up and has Malfoy see him out from under Harry’s invisibility cloak. Harry rushes back but is caught by Professor Snape and questioned. Snape reveals his hatred for Harry’s father from back in school and Harry yells at Snape to shut up and that James Potter was a hero not a bully. Snape has Harry empty his pockets and Snape confiscates the Marauder’s Map, calling Lupin in to take a look at it. Lupin takes the map, warning Harry of its dangers and Harry goes on his way back to the dormitory, where Harry and Ron find out that Hagrid has lost his case and Buckbeak will be executed.
One of the worst things I tend to do is not be in the present moment. My friend Lyn used to have this saying at all social gatherings (dinners, parties, wine nights, etc.): “Be Present.” This was a social cue that we or at least one of us was on our phone, not paying attention to the group. It makes you think though: how many times am I not being present, not paying attention to what is happening in the moment but instead living in the future or the past.
Hagrid tells Harry and Ron that they need to care for Hermione a little more. Both of them have been living in the past a bit hurt from either Harry’s broom being confiscated for anti-jinx spells (and then returned) because of Hermione or Ron’s rat disappearing which is blamed on Hermione’s cat. By living in these hang-ups they fail to see that Hermione is overwhelmed with school work and could use a friend right about now. Also in the fury of all of this and quidditch, both Harry and Ron have forgotten about promises they made to Hagrid to help him prepare for his upcoming trial. And then you have Snape who instead of playing the role of a teacher who should be caring for his students and lecturing them on how they shouldn’t be trying to leave the castle, he personally attacks Harry based on a grudge against Harry’s father from Snape’s childhood.
Living in the past or living in a fantasy future tends to make us unaware of our surroundings and the people around us. Just this weekend my boyfriend and I were walking around the Garden of the Gods and I started talking about plans for the next weekend instead of taking in the beautiful rock formations and landscape around us. When we talked about it later, he said he wasn’t trying to be disinterested in what I was saying, but instead present in the moment.
It’s hard to always be present in the moment, to cast aside any past feelings, hang-ups or hurts or to cast aside any anxious planning and fantasies for the future. To be present means to actually have to mindfully stay engaged with where you are at all times. (Now don’t get me wrong, planning ahead and daydreaming are useful, and should happen whenever you truly need it to happen.) When we aren’t mindful of our surroundings, of the present moment, we mistake people’s actions, we miss out on beautiful moments, we don’t get a chance to see the world as it is.
In our spring semester I had a friend who started planning out the rest of her time at law school. She created a spread sheet to plan out what classes to take in order to graduate early and get out of school as soon as possible. I started thinking to myself, man that’s a great idea, I should do something similar and began to create my own plan to get out early, a race against the traditional law school clock. I took 10 credits this summer… 5 less than my spring semester and in a truncated semester. My goal was to take as many as possible so I could keep up, out pace the traditional law school path and graduate early, take the bar exam early, and start practicing as soon as possible.
Let’s just say… presently I AM EXHAUSTED. My goal of living this fast-paced future has been a tiring one, one that I didn’t plan out with any breaks or breathers. My goal to get to the future already didn’t take into account my spring semester fatigue either or my present (at the time of the decision and currently) desire to just relax and see more of Colorado. I tried to live in a fantasy world, an anxious world built on this need to keep up with the girl sitting next to me planning her future so she didn’t have to pay attention in her current class. And now, i’m tired and not enjoying myself as much as I would like.
Living in the future or living in the past doesn’t let your gut instinct have a voice. It gives your brain a voice. It gives your heart a voice, but not your gut. For Snape, living in the past gave his heart that voice that said he was still hurting from the way he was bullied in school while his brain told him to take it out on the next best person, his bully’s son. For me, my head was the lone ranger in this race telling me to keep up, get it done and be as cool as those around you. You need all three parts of your personality to have a voice. The head needs to be able to reason with your decisions and thoughtfully assess situations. The Heart needs to be able to whisper your desires, your pains, and your loves to the head in the decisions it makes. The Gut needs to be able to feel what’s right and wrong and scream that to the other two parts in order to make solid decisions. Without all three of them working together you make bad choices for yourself.
In law school its easy to see what others are doing and try to imitate it, following only the head’s voice or the heart’s desire to be loved and accepted. The gut feels like it’s usually snuffed out, that no one seems to always listen to it, but the gut tells us a lot about the world around us in the moment. With Anxiety my gut never gets listened to, I plan out and logically look at every scenario and choose which one to go with instead of feeling which one is right. It’s a mental decision, but not always the right one.
Being present helps take that away. It helps ease the depressed mind or the anxious one and allows a person to feel, think and listen their way through each moment. When my friend Lyn would tell us to be present, to put down our phones and really connect in the moment, we always had more fun, or had deeper conversations. One of my goals this up coming semester is to be more present, to mindfully see every moment in the moment, listening to my head, my heart and my gut equally, letting go of all other distractions. I encourage more people to do this too. So try it this week or sometime this year, be present, let go of grudges, let go of plans for the future and just live in the moment. Make new friends, reconnect with old friends, explore with no plans and let yourself be uncomfortable, you never know what the present can gift us.
Until Next Time,