The secret to a life of enchantment

The secret to a life of enchantment

"The awe-inspiring, the numinous, is all around us, all the time. It is transformed by our deliberate attention. It becomes valuable when we value it. It becomes meaningful when we invest in it with meaning. The magic is of our own conjuring…" - Katherine May

I was hanging out the washing in the garden when my 5-year-old daughter rushed up to me, full of excitement: “Mummy, there's a big chrysalis in the tree!”

I had two choices:

  1. Say “that's nice” and carry on getting the washing done, i.e. carry on as if my world was the most important
  2. Go with her to take a look, i.e. break the status quo and seek out a shared experience

I chose the second and, sure enough, hanging in the tree was a large, flat, curling brown shape: a seed pod!

I've lived here 4 years and never seen our tree make such amazing creations before. How had they suddenly popped up there without us noticing them growing?

The extraordinary ordinary

In sharing her discovery and in me engaging with her excitement, my daughter had transformed what would have been a very ordinary moment - one that would have slipped into distant memory - into something extraordinary - 🌟 a moment of shared wonder and enchantment.

Humans are naturally curious beings - you can see this in every child's sense of wonder. Yet, as we get older, we are conditioned to see the world around us as a backdrop to human goings-on, a place to extract from as and when we want.

Moments of wonder, awe, magic and enchantment flip our perspective and suddenly the whole world feels alive, moving, organic and we shift from being the main actors to a living cell or a large, interconnected organism.

But here's the secret -

Living a life filled with enchantment, awe and wonder takes courage; courage to commit to a lifetime of engagement.

Courage to pause, reflect, learn and pay loving attention to the world around us. We cannot expect an enchanted life to appear blast into our life like an advert on TV.

Moments of wonder are hidden beneath the surface and take intention and deliberate action until they seamlessly weave into life with ease. It's about reawakening your inner 5-year-old and rewilding your soul, letting the wild seeds within all of us flourish and grow into a tangled, enchanted garden.

As Katherine May writes in her book Enchantment: Reawakening wonder in an exhausted age:

“Our sense of enchantment is not triggered only by grand things; the sublime is not hiding in distant landscapes. The awe-inspiring, the numinous, is all around us, all the time. It is transformed by our deliberate attention. It becomes valuable when we value it. It becomes meaningful when we invest in it with meaning. The magic is of our own conjuring…If we wait passively to become enchanted, we could wait a long time. But seeking is a kind of work. I don't mean heading off on wild trips just to see the stars that are shining above your own roof. I mean committing to a lifetime of engagement: to noticing the world around you, to actively looking for small distillations of beauty, to making time to contemplate and reflect. To learning the names of the plants and places that surround you, or training your mind in the rich pathways of the metaphorical. To finding a way to express your interconnectedness with the rest of humanity. To putting your feet on the ground, every now and then, and feeling the tingle of life that the earth offers in return. It’s all there, waiting for our attention.”

Image credit: Tom Morel via Unsplash

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