Ho, this is a difficult one, and something I have been mulling over for several weeks. In one of my first posts on this blog, I defined enchantment as letting our perceptions control our reality. However, I recently came across a funny article by The Onion entitled Facebook User Verifies Truth Of Article By Carefully Checking It Against Own Preconcieved Opinions.
I found the article to be hilarious, but it did make me doubt myself. In an era of misinformation and fake news where discerning facts seems to be more confusing by the day, was it really responsible of me to promote the idea that our own personal perceptions can control our reality?
To clarify this issue, I would like to bring to the forefront two terms absolutely vital to distinguishing my concept of “Enchantment” from the anti-intellectualism movement: wandering and transcendence.
Transcendence (n): the state of excelling or surpassing or going beyond usual limits; a state of being or existence above and beyond the limits of material experience
The big difference, to me, between someone who has an Enchanted Outlook and someone who is anti-intellectualist is the willingness to wander, even away from one’s own preconceived notions, even when it is scary to do so. It is a willingness to examine different points of view. A willingness, if you will, to accept a call to adventure. To go down the rabbit hole. To learn. To grow. But perhaps Bilbo Baggins said it best:
To wander is at the heart of living an enchanted life. To live an enchanted life is not to live a life with eyes more closed, but rather, to live a life with eyes more open. To explore. To let your curiosity guide you. To find greater truths. To never stop questioning until you have gotten to the very bottom of things, to the heart of the issue. And then to keep asking more questions.
In doing this, we also open ourselves inevitably to truths that are difficult and sad as well as wonderful and beautiful. We must therefore learn how to process those difficult things. We must learn to rise above them, in other words, to transcend. We find ways to see the beauty in things even when they are at their ugliest, their scariest, or even their most mundane. We can be better than the things that surround us. This is what I meant by letting perceptions control reality.
To live an enchanted life, then, is not to live a life of denial of fact, but a life of optimism even in the light of difficult facts. To hope for the extraordinary. To find things to be grateful for. To seek greater truths. To embody those qualities we so admire in characters our favorite magical tales. Above all, to live an enchanted life is to aspire to do the most difficult thing of all: to look into the cold, hard truths of the world, and to still find plenty of reasons to smile. That is truly a life enchanted.
I’ve got a lot of thoughts about anti-intellectualism and the fake news movement, but I’m curious to know what you think; let me know in the comments below.