Harry Potter and the Curse of the New Variant

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Sitting in the darkened rows of the Princess Theatre, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is in full swing. The special effects are incredible (I won’t spoil it) and it takes an effort to remind oneself that magic isn’t really happening; it does seem the most logical explanation for what the audience is witnessing. Some moments are particularly unforgettable.

Here, on a comfy red seat in a packed row, it is easy to give in to the magic, to forget about life for a while and to place ourselves in the hands of the creatives on stage, spinning their story for our entertainment. How we have missed this: storytelling, imagination, performance!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on stage in Melbourne. Credit:Evan Zimmerman

The crowd is big, slow, respectful. People linger on the footpath outside during intermission, getting some fresh air on a balmy evening under the blazing lights on the facade of the Princess Theatre. The bright lights telegraph to all that Melbourne is back to her old vivacious self.

During the intermission though, a quick iPhone check reveals news stories filtering through about the arrival in Australia of Omicron, the latest COVID-19 variant, identified by scientists in South Africa.

Omicron. The name doesn’t quite roll off the tongue yet but it will. It seems a fitting name for the latest variation of a virus that refuses to die. It slots right in with other enduring villains like the Terminator and Harry Potter’s Dementors, all relentless pursuers, swift, adaptable and dangerous.

What can be done about this new opponent? We are not sure yet. One thing seems clear though. Worry doesn’t help us.

Worry achieves nothing. It eats away at our peace of mind. It robs the day of its pleasures and steals our sleep, leaving us exhausted when we wake.

How many hours did we lose fretting over reports relayed at press conferences about people not doing the right thing? Or about the numbers of infections which, in hindsight, were minuscule compared to the numbers we have now?

Many of us are over the worry. Whatever happens in the future it is hard to imagine it will require more of us than we have already given or place more restrictions upon us than what we have already endured. We will be all right.

In the meantime, we should take advantage of what our beautiful city has to offer within the bounds of safety. Doing something because it delights us and restocks the imagination, restores a sense of wellbeing and reinforces to us that we are OK in this moment.

Living from one good moment to the next is how we will safely cross above the uncertainties that lie in the shadows beneath us.

Melissa Coburn is a freelance writer.

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