Enchantment. What does that word mean to you? Do you even remember the last time you were “enchanted?” It has been awhile for me…or so I thought.
Last week I was lucky enough to spend the day with two of my favorite authors, Rob Bell and Elizabeth Gilbert, at a writer’s workshop in Hollywood that I had zero expectations for. I just knew I wanted to hear what they had to say.
They began with this statement “Creativity is the single most rational decision you make.”
In order to examine what creativity and living a creative life was, we were given 6 words over the course of 7 hours to process, play with, dialogue about, and “sit with”.
The first word was courage, which ended up really being fear.
We had to write a letter to our fear. I was like what the heck I thought this was supposed to be an INSPIRING writer’s workshop?! As I set out to write my letter with the 300 other people in the room, I immediately felt the lump in my throat, my heart start to race, and my ears get hot.
Dear Fear….What are my fears and how the heck do I put them into words? Tears welled up in my eyes.
Most of my real and legitimate fears center largely around my children and their future…like any parent, I wish for them the many things I have experienced both good and bad, but maybe learning from them quicker, sooner, better?
As we progressed through the workshop we would write letters to the following: Courage/Fear, Enchantment, Persistence, Trust, Permission, and Divinity. It was genius.
You see, ultimately all of these do a dance. A mad, passionate, vicious cycle, super soul cycle workout that is a cross between Rhianna’s lashing out and Josh Groban’s heightened divine notes, with a dash of Beyonce in between.
We were instructed to share with someone we didn’t know. I was seated next to a stand up comedian from LA, donning an Aztec blanket of a coat like the one Jim Carey wore in “Dumb and Dumber.” I suddenly realized how really out of touch I was with the world of my own creativity. (I think he was the most eclectic person there, except for the lady named Heidi that stood up and described her disastrous failure of her last movie “ Hottie but Naughty” starring Paris Hilton….(Only in L.A.)
As Rob Bell guided her through her supposed failure of a movie script, he asked her what she did during her hiatus from screen writing? Well, she had been raising her medically fragile son….and thus he stopped her in her tracks. So many mothers and fathers that stay home or caregivers feel that they are not creating when they are tending to loved ones, or raising children, he stated “ Raising a child, caring for another human being, is the fundamentally most creative act one can do”. A-ha!
It was at this moment I realized, all these “systems”, “routines” that we have in place to protect our kids, to make sure they have what they need, to provide academics that make sense, they are sucking the everlasting drops of enchantment from them and from me. In the race for persistence, coupled with fear, this notion of scarcity, and follow through, I had lost the very essence of the human spirit— enchantment. And then, even worse, I realized, as teachers we have done the same thing. We have so many rules and high stakes tests, some of us have begun to lose our enchantment to teach, and in turn stifled the enchantment of our learners. In Arizona, we can barely keep teachers in the classroom longer than 3 years as we are 49th in student funding.
Rob and Elizabeth would go on to explain very succintly ,”There is no algorithm, no formula for enchantment. We are all born with it. It is the simple act of play, joy, and leaning into the mysteries of life, and allowing that mystery to move down one.more. layer. into becoming real.”
The wonder in a newborn’s eyes, the first steps our kids take, we capture those. But simple things like the pure nature of the US of A and all the glorious parts we miss because we are so busy creating “stuff” and “working hard” fearful we won’t have “enough”. As Elizabeth said, “Fear isn’t very smart, and it rarely has an answer for you. “ Enchantment is fear wearing a fake mustache”…..
I, like many, had almost lost my enchantment in the race for persistence.
Simply put as Rob said, “Persistence wants to dance with enchantment, but it often interrupts it.”
So the question I beg to ask is as educators, how do we keep the enchantment that brought us to this profession alive? My personal answer is to cultivate it. To manifest it. To continue to look for ways to inspire and motivate our students to learn. One of the ways that we can do this is to inspire movement in the classroom using the Gurian methodologies, to inspire collaboration and interfacing with each other in a day and age when technology seems to be the much easier route, and to allow students to learn how they are wired–through play, through joy, and through the very essence of who they came out of the womb as, enchanted.
So as you end your year, and relax into your summer of enchantment, take a balance check on what your enchantment level is and how it can work in tandem with your persistence. How can you motivate your learners and children with enchantment? How can you cultivate and manifest what they already intrinsically bring to you as far as enchanted human beings? How can you remain persistently enchanted with movement in your classroom? It is there, promise.
Elizabeth Gilbert coins this phenomena as “STUBBORN GLADNESS”, because believe it or not, shockingly, we are not just here to pay bills and die, people.
Summer 2016. Get enchanted.
By Katey McPherson