I have never met either of these two people. They do not know I exist. And one of them is a fictional character.
I am talking, of course, about Ms Joanne Rowling and Mr Harry James Potter.
The more I think about it, the more amazing it actually seems how much my life has been changed by this series of books. Or, perhaps more accurately, how much my life revolves around them. I know for certain that I would be a less openly nerdy person, less confident in my own eccentricities, if it weren't for my total dedication to this series - when you love something enough, you reach a stage where you don't care what people think; you just want to talk about it constantly, and wear your fandom with pride - and for the inspirational influence of one Miss Luna Lovegood.
But I digress. Perhaps another day I shall write a post about all the ways Harry Potter has changed me, but not today. Today, I want to reflect on the inspirational story of Joanne Rowling, and just how far she has come.
Less than twenty years ago, J.K. Rowling was unemployed and living off benefits; fresh from a divorce, and still mourning the loss of her beloved mother two years earlier. She suffered from clinical depression and recurring suicidal thoughts, and would wake up every morning expecting her one-year-old daughter to be dead. She saw herself as "the biggest failure [she] knew."
Today, she is the richest woman in show-business in the UK, and the first person ever to become a U.S billionaire on the back of a writing career. But more importantly, she has defeated her own personal dementors. In an interview for ITV's 50 Greatest Harry Potter moments, Jo described a particularly special moment on set for her:
The most vivid memory I have of visiting Leavesden for the first time, and the most poignant memory of all, was walking past the Mirror of Erised, which was standing in a dark corner. And, this is going to sound so incredibly corny, but I did literally turn and look at myself in the Mirror of Erised, and I was standing there a published author, on the set of the adaptation of my novel, by a British crew, being made in Britain, all of which was very important to me, and that was a real shivers down the spine moment.As Dumbledore tells us in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: "The happiest man on earth would look in the mirror and see only himself exactly how he is." That Jo, who less than two decades ago was contemplating suicide, is now in that position is, I think, one of the most inspirational rags-to-riches stories I have ever known. (And yes, I did cry at that point in the programme.)
So, happy birthday Jo, and happy birthday Harry. And thank you.