What’s your boggart?
I recently posed this question to a group during a team-building exercise, and was quite disappointed that so few people knew what I was referencing. How can people with school-aged children not know Harry Potter? Lucky for you, that question isn’t the point of this post. The point is fear.
If you’re not familiar with JK Rowling’s version of the boggart, it’s a magical creature that takes on the likeness of the greatest fear of the person before it. In the Harry Potter universe, for example, Ron Weasley is afraid of spiders. So when Ron faces a boggart, he does not see the creature in its natural form, but instead a creature that has taken on the form of a giant spider.
The one thing that bothered me about boggarts was the difficulty in portraying intangible fears. That’s not to say it can’t be done. Hermione Granger is afraid of failure, and thus sees a professor telling her she’d failed all of her exams. Harry sees a dementor, a creature that feeds on happiness and leaves its victims with misery and (you guessed it), fear, thus implying that Harry wisely fears fear itself. For the most part, however, the kids are shown as having very simple fears: A banshee. A severed hand. This is probably because it’s easier to write, and children do not have as complex fears as adults.
But what about people who fear pain? Would they seem someone they love in pain? Something approaching them that could cause great pain?
This is what I pondered while I came to my own answer.
What’s my boggart?
Myself with a mustache.
Now, listen here. I have a very deep reason for coming to this conclusion. I think many of us fear something buried within ourselves. Maybe it’s a memory of some mistake we made, or almost made. Maybe it’s a capacity to fail, or hurt, or harm that lies within any human. We all bring on our own fears, so it is only reasonable to fear that part of ourselves.
Or maybe it’s that I really, really don’t want to wake up one day and find I’ve grown a mustache.