Saturday, October 16, 2021

The Uses of Enchantment: the Mid-Life Edition

I've been thinking of enchanted forests.  I've been thinking of a cottage in the woods and what happens to wicked witches who mellow.  I've been thinking about herb gardens and ovens that bake bread, not little boys.

This morning I thought of the Bruno Bettelheim text, once classic now somewhat discredited, The Uses of Enchantment.  I thought of all those children using fairy tales to process the scary, incomprehensible stuff going on in their lives.  Am I doing the same thing for my mid-life fears?

Yesterday I took my daily walk by the tidal lake, as I do each day.  For the past several weeks, the lake has been jumping--or more precisely, the fish have been jumping.  I've seen a dolphin here and there.  I've seen lots of little fish skittering out, as if they were members of a water ballet company.  Yesterday, the word "enchanted" came to mind.

If we grew up hearing stories about enchanted lakes instead of enchanted forests, would our imaginations function differently?  Would we do more to protect bodies of water?  Probably not.

I think of the orchid on my office windowsill, the one that has bloomed continuously since July of 2020 when I got it from colleagues at work.  

Orchids are not supposed to bloom continuously for 15 months, but this one has:

People come into my office and stop at the sight of the orchid.  They ask me my secret.  I say, "Every day I pour the dregs of my cups of tea into it.  Maybe it likes the tannins."  I try to beam my best swamp witch radiance when I say things like this.

I've been trying to transform another corner of my office, not with enchantments, but with a potted mum in an autumnal hue, with pumpkins, with fake trees mingling with the fairy light trees, and lights strung across the trees:

Pumpkins make me so happy.  

I may go buy some more today.  It's cheap therapy, and I can support the local church.  My church has canceled its pumpkin patch because of the pandemic, so I'm happy to support a church in my neighborhood (First Presbyterian, where Hollywood Blvd. comes into the Arts Park Circle.

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