Today I recall E.O. Wilson’s confession in his memoir, Naturalist, that his searching the sea for mysterious creatures was really about something else. He says, “I also hoped for more than sharks, what exactly I could not say: something to enchant the rest of my life.”
Aren’t we all searching like that? Aren’t we all secretly hoping to come upon the sort of mystery and beauty that will fascinate and enchant our whole lives?
As I think about my love of art, music, poetry, and theater, I know I love it because it fascinates. It enchants. But it cannot be the end. I remember the way C.S. Lewis came to know Jesus. He was searching for a form of enchantment he called Joy, and he says this:
I saw that all my waitings and watchings for Joy, all my vain hopes to find some mental content on which I could, so to speak, lay my finger and say “This is it,” had been a futile attempt to contemplate the enjoyed. All that such watching and waiting ever could find would be either an image (Asgard, the Western Garden, or what not) or a quiver in the diaphragm. I should never have to bother again about these images or sensations. I knew now that they were merely the mental track left by the passage of Joy — not the wave but the wave’s imprint on the sand. The inherent dialectic of desire itself had in a way already shown me this; for all images and sensations, if idolatrously mistaken for Joy itself, soon honestly confessed themselves inadequate. All said, in the last resort, “It is not I. I am only a reminder. Look! Look! What do I remind you of?” ~~ C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy