Monday, August 1, 2011

Organizing lessons from Harry Potter

Last week I saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two. The final movie of the final book in that series was a lot of fun to watch, and also something of a relief, as all the hype can now die down and those who are interested can simply enjoy the books and movies at their leisure. I read all seven Harry Potter books several years ago and enjoyed the stories and characters very much. A couple of organizing insights hit me as I was watching the final film. **Mild spoilers ahead.**

I've always been fascinated by the Room of Requirement. The nifty plot device was used in several of the books. It is a room that appears when you need it, and once inside is presents you with objects you need, or simply an open space, if that is what you require. It is also the place where all those little things one loses, from socks to books, actually gather. People leave things there, old furniture for instance, and never have to think about them again. It's a remarkable idea, and very appealing. Who wouldn't want a room that's invisible most of the time to stow unwanted items, and also place to find lost and needed ones?

Toward the end of HPATDHP2, the Room of Requirement provides the location for something desperately needed by Harry, and then promptly gets set on fire and all those lost, unwanted items get consumed in a flash. My thought as an organizer, is how lovely for the room and the castle it lives in to get a fresh start, especially after the destruction due to the final battle of Hogwarts.

I was also thinking about the concept of horcruxes. In the Harry Potter universe, horcruxes are objects that have been imbued with pieces of Voldemort's soul using dark magic, with the intent that will it enable Voldemort to live forever. Destroying the horcruxes (things like a ring, a necklace and a book) also destroys part of Voldemort's soul and makes it easier to defeat him, which is of course, something that Harry is trying to do.

I think sometimes it can feel like our things do contain parts of our souls. A wedding band, for instance, is a powerful symbol and very meaningful, but things like a favorite t-shirt or a trinket we picked up on a favorite vacation can also seem to contain bits of ourselves. Feeling that way can make it very difficult to let go of something, such as when the t-shirt starts falling apart from wear or the trinket gets crowded off the shelf by newer, shinier souvenirs.

But thank goodness, our souls do not reside in things outside of us. Things are just things. We don't owe them anything. And they can't make us immortal. If they break, it might hurt a little, but we are still the same.

Lelah Baker-Rabe is a Los Angeles-based professional organizer. To discuss your organizing needs, call her at 818.269.6671 or email Sign up for Lelah's News, a once-monthly newsletter.

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