Grandfather Knows Best – Is it magic?
BY BARCLAY HENDERSON
I viewed mystical people with humor and suspicion, so it should not have been a surprise when my granddaughter Molly accused me of being inattentive to her fantasy world.
We were walking down a dirt road one summer afternoon when Molly asked, “Grandpa, can you see the fairies in the forest?”
“No,” I replied in a grandfatherly tone. “I don’t believe there are any fairies.” Why should I get sucked into a debate with a child about her take on pixies?
Molly persisted. This was an eight-year-old who had spent her life studying pixies.
“Grandpa, you’re just not paying attention…or even trying!”
We continued walking. She gave up on me and rolled her eyes as if to say, “No more walks with grumpy old grandfathers! It’s just not worth it!”
“Enchantment is … the willingness to live in a bungalow of stories rather than a warehouse of facts.”
But, for the price of an ice-cream cone, which she shared with the pixie, all was forgiven and forgotten.
Later, I read a book The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life. It suggests, “Enchantment is … the willingness to live in a bungalow of stories rather than a warehouse of facts. It places imagination before information, and wisdom before intelligence.”
At the time of our walk, I was newly retired, whereas Molly had years to go before starting her career. Neither of us was anchored to the same reality as, say, middle-aged, fact-filled, working parents.
As a cantankerous retiree, I resolved to seek “enchantment and wisdom.”
Then a “bungalow of stories” moment arrived. I experienced enchantment in our garden. Hummingbirds were flying in front of me. These birds became pixies as I witnessed their fearless aerobatics. Then the little ruby throats dive-bombed my left ear and made hairpin turns like space aliens. It was frightening. But, quick as a flicker, they took off. I never saw them again that year.
Months later, back came the hummingbirds with fresh aerial acrobatics. They seemed to know I was the guy who refilled the sugar-water dispenser. Maybe it wasn’t magic, but I found it an out-of-this-world experience. It reminded me of Molly’s long ago mystical, dirt road message: Pay attention to the inexplicable.
Now as I walk slowly down the Retirement Dirt Road I have time to examine enchantment carefully.
Molly is older now; her world is filling her warehouse of facts. She will be doing budgets and taxes and balancing family and career. Then, decades later she’ll retire and enter a new reality where she can rediscover some of the enchantment that escaped her middle-aged career days. When that time comes I hope she has an eight-year-old companion to walk with her down that dirt road.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Barclay Henderson graduated from Dartmouth Business School and started his own business as an owner/operator of more than 20 fine dining and fast food restaurants. Seven years ago he retired and spends his time playing the oboe in a woodwind quintet, hanging out in the gym and traveling with his Japanese wife of 52 years