The GuardianThe Guardian

‘There I was, a tiny speck in a vast universe’ … How awe made my life worth living again

By Katherine May

29 Mar 2023 · 6 min read

Editor's Note

As adults we all tend to push away our sense of enchantment, but author Katherine May argues in The Guardian that we can all find awe, wonder and fascination close by, even in the darkest of times.

For the first two months of this year, I was ill. I don’t mean the kind of ill that you can soldier on through, sniffing as you go. I mean properly, cancel-everything-and-take-to-your-bed ill. I was not sure when I would feel well again, and that was a problem because I had a book that was about to be published – a book about rekindling awe, wonder and fascination. I could barely stand up, let alone hold a thought in my head. Those soft emotions felt very far away.

But in my experience, Enchantment, my new book, always was intended for dark times, rather than easy ones. It emerged from the depths of the pandemic, when successive lockdowns had left me so burnt out that I felt as though I’d ground to a halt. Time looped and skipped, and my mind seemed unable to rest on the most simple activities, like holding a conversation or filling out a form. Worst of all, I lost my ability to read for pleasure. My solace and retreat, the place I turn to when I want to escape into the world of stories and ideas, was gone. It was as though desire itself had left me. I wondered if I’d ever be able to find it again.

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