Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Portkeys in Today's World

Harry: "Why are we all standing round some manky old boot?"
Fred: "Not just any manky old boot, mate, it's a Portkey!"
Harry: "What's a Portkey?"
— Fred Weasley and Harry Potter

A Portkey is an object enchanted to instantly bring anyone touching it to a specific location. Most of the time, a Portkey is an everyday object that would not draw the attention of a Muggle. Travelling by Portkey is said to feel like having a hook "somewhere behind the navel" pulling the traveller to their location.
An old boot, a blankie, a stuffed animal, a picture, a shirt, a ring, really any object of sentimental value can all be portkeys in today’s world.
When I need to escape in a book for a few minutes but don’t want to read a book that I’ll be engaged in for hours I usually pull out an old Harry Potter book. I am currently rereading The Order of the Phoenix for more than the 5th time and connected a scene in it to my personal life this week. Nearing Christmas break Harry sees in a vision Arthur Weasely being attacked by Nagina, Voldemort’s giant snake. After sounding the alarm Dumbledore gathered the Weasley children and Harry in his office in order to get them out of Hogwarts and to the safety of Grimmauld Place before Delores Umbridge could interfere. To do this he activated a portey to transport them somewhere else, but in order to be transported they needed to touch it.
When I was younger I had a stuffed monkey named Jo Jo. He was my best friend and we had the best of times. I luckily have a few pictures of us playing together. Jo Jo was also a huge source of comfort to me when things were scary: thunderstorms at night, when my parents were fighting, when things that I was too young to understand were going on in my life. Jo Jo will always hold a part of me whether I’m in possession of him or not.
We all have Jo Jo’s of some sort in our lives. A solid object, even if it’s just a picture, something that represents an important part of our life or played an important part in our life. It may be an article of clothing from someone we have lost, a collar off our dog who has died, a picture of a childhood best friend, a stuffed animal, your blankie, that you carried around everywhere. Like in the definition of a Portkey, they are everyday objects that would not draw the attention of anyone in particular.
There is so much power in touch, we crave it, we need it. Thinking about being hugged and being hugged are two totally different things. As my mind was trying to process the connection it was making between a portkey and today’s world I was just struck in a way I hadn’t been before as to why we save things that are deeply important to us. It’s because we need them at times to keep our past alive. Time is not linear, it’s past, present and future. I believe those objects in a sense “hold” time for us. I have a particular picture of Jo Jo and me playing in the back yard. It was still cold out as I was wearing a red coat, but I was taking Jo Jo on a bike ride. A bike I couldn’t even ride yet. I can look at that picture on facebook and think about that day, but when I hold that picture in my hands and look at it something changes. In some ways it seems as if I am physically transported back to that day, back to that memory. “A Portkey is an object enchanted to instantly bring anyone touching it to a specific location.”
For my daughter Amanda’s bridal shower I put together a box of her childhood mementos that I had been saving and as I placed each item in the box for a moment I was transported back to that time in a way that can’t happen if we just “think” about that time. Holding the outfit we brought her home from the hospital in took me straight back to that day 23 years ago. I had to sort through many boxes separating her childhood things from the others. I found letters the kids had written, baby clothes, tiny shoes, pinewood derby cars, camp shirts, crafts and each time I slowed down and looked at each object…bam…I was transported to another place.
Why this all seems to be new revelation to me, I’m not sure. I guess it’s a deeper understanding as to why we save things, or at least why I save things. Why when we need to draw comfort from a loved one that is no longer here we pull out a sweatshirt we saved of theirs and put it on. When we are missing our grown children we pull out the Mother’s Day cards they drew us when they were young and touch them and hold them and are drawn back to that place. When we are thinking about our own childhood we pull out a stuffed animal and are drawn back in to time. It’s pretty amazing how an inanimate object can suddenly be enchanted with life when it is touched.
There is nothing new to what I say, just a new awareness for me. As you read this, do you think about a portkey in your life? Go and touch it, be transported for a time.


Kim is a woman I met about a year ago - in a very special way that is hard to put into words.  As I've gotten to know her more and more, I love seeing how her mind works and that willingly shares her inner thoughts and feelings.

I chose this post to be the final guest post.  Mostly because of this line:

It’s pretty amazing how an inanimate object can suddenly be enchanted with life when it is touched.

I think to the stories shared by Dee, Angelic, Secrena, Lindsey and the people in those stories who caused pain, who were hurting, who experienced devastation... and my prayer is that they have their own portkey that transports them to their own happy places.  That may be in cherishing that final moment with a dying mom, remembering a goofy grin on a sweet little face, or embracing the memory of the hug of a friend in a time of terrible tragedy.

I think that stories and story telling is a type of portkey, too.  Because it connects us back to our story, back to that moment in time and we relive it when we tell it.  


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