Some say that incremental change is the safest, sanest way to address systemic problems. But sometimes, when the cracks in a broken system shiver with seismic reverberations, and the pressure of looming catastrophe feels crushing, baby steps will not work, personally or collectively. Then it’s time for transformation, and transformation begins with enchantment.
To enchant a tricky situation:
stop judging it, so you can
look at it differently and
hold it lightly as you
attune to the possibilities that orbit like electrons, which will let you
Billions of years ago, in the early ages of the Universe, the atoms that make up the molecules that make up your cells that make up your body didn’t exist. None of that came into being until after stars formed — gargantuan cauldrons of fire-soup that cooked up the iron, nitrogen, and oxygen on which you live today.
Stars made those atoms, then they exploded, blasting their bits out into space. Some of it went on to form a warm, sunny planet with water to splash around in, and a protective-yet-oxygenated atmosphere to breathe. Before long, some of this stardust jostled into a sufficiently complex pattern that it could reproduce. Then it learned to swim, see, run, fly, laugh, create.
The stars are creative. They made the world, and they made you. You are stardust, and you inherit your cosmic creativity from your Godparent Stars. The dazzling night sky shows your origins and your birthright.
In the genre of literature called magical realism, stories are set in worlds that seem like everyday reality, except that amazing, seemingly unreal things happen. Magic erupts into the mundane.
Ever since I read fairy tales as a child, I’ve been convinced that this kind of story shows a view of reality more complete than realism alone. For instance, you can be plodding along, paying bills and going to work, when you fall in love and the world glows. Or someone dies and your heart bursts into a flower with deep purple petals. Or impossible coincidences pile up, and the birds sing their clamorous song: Awake! Awake! Awake!
On one level, magical realism is a metaphor for creativity — the surprise of it, the sense of the miraculous that accompanies an insight or breakthrough, the conviction that the world is in fact pregnant with as-yet unimagined possibilities.
On a deeper level, magical realism shows that life is real, and life is magical. Neither realism nor magic alone tells the whole story. Realism by itself tries to spread the half-truth, “Life sucks and then you die.” Magic by itself tells its own half-truth, “Everything is wonderful and amazing!” The whole truth is that they’re both true. Life is difficult and wonderful, and yes, then you die, but there’s always the possibility of amazement, all along the way.