Building Creative Resilience: Strategies for Cultivating Enchantment

Adversity and boredom can strip away our joy and creativity. Can a sense of enchantment improve our resilience?

Boredom © Jae with CCLicense
Boredom
© Jae with CCLicense

Have you ever felt as if you were missing something or merely going through the motions of living? Sometimes this happens as a result of a catastrophe in our lives, but it can sneak up on us when things seem to be going well. Boredom and apathy can make life miserable and contribute to a host of health issues and destructive behaviors. One way to combat the turmoil they create is to focus on enchantment.

I don’t mean that we should walk around under a spell that blinds us to reality or that we should do only what we please, but rather that we cultivate a peacefulness, joy and wonder for the world around us that doesn’t completely fade when we meet adversity. How do we do this? Here are a few strategies.

Temper authenticity with kindness

I firmly believe that there are no bad emotions, only emotions which are expressed in ways that are not useful. Being angry or scared may save your life when well expressed at an opportune time. Feelings exert pressure on us to behave differently, to act in new ways that change the outcome of the world around us. If you don’t feel like smiling, don’t smile. Denying your angst will shove it deeper into your psyche, where it will grow and leak out at unexpected times, poisoning your experiences. Strive to be honest with yourself, with those you love and, to a certain extent, with the people around you, but temper that authenticity with kindness and empathy, even when dealing with yourself. Honesty without those things can be a sharp sword and should be used sparingly.

Train yourself to see the good things

We all know that person who constantly expects the worst so that they never experience a negative surprise. If you choose to embrace this philosophy, realize that it may help you to manifest your worst thoughts and nightmares. We often take steps to avoid the uncomfortable realities we anticipate and these steps can actually create those realities, either externally or internally. If we expect something to be unpleasant or expect someone will not like us, we emit signals that make those events more likely to happen. Our attitude has energy that can bless or poison the lives of those around us. This is our magic. In addition, life is able to surprise us with circumstances which are worse than we can imagine. We are not going to be able to avoid disappointment completely, so we might as well look with joy on that which is good.

Is there any value in preparing to fight a dragon when the dragon turns out to be either a mouse or a train?

mouse-308756_640
Public Domain Image via Pixabay

Be Present

Focus on where you are and what you are doing right now. When you are driving to work, keep your attention on the road rather than your cellphone. When you are walking down the street or into a grocery store, notice the people around you and smile and interact with them. When you are eating, enjoy the texture and taste of your meal rather than focusing on work. This doesn’t mean you can’t sit down and plan for the future or think ahead. It means you are not dividing your attention in a way that makes you miss real life, which is nothing short of miraculous.

When was the last time you noticed the clouds, which are always changing above us?

Northeastern Wyoming © Katherine McDaniel, 2015
© Katherine McDaniel, 2015

Remember to Play

As we become adults, we tend to get serious about life. Some of this is required; we need to pay bills and take care of ourselves or enchantment ends abruptly. But we often go overboard, working long hours that become tedious, pushing far past healthy endurance and attention span, focusing only on that which gives us obvious profit. It is okay to spend some of our waking hours “wasting time” creating imaginary realities or doing something pointless. If we can plan play into our daily lives we give ourselves opportunities for rest and learning things in nonlinear ways, as well as outlets for frustration that mean we can be more productive when we return to work. If we can see some of our work as play (there will always be elements that remain hard work) we can even draw enchantment into our workplace.

Do you ever feel guilty for enjoying yourself? Could you give yourself permission instead?

Imagination: Life in the minds of children © mehdinom with CCLicense
Imagination: Life in the minds of children
© mehdinom with CCLicense

Find your Passion

What is it that fills you with delight? Nature is a great place to look for enchantment, but there are things to fall in love with everywhere, from doll making to architecture, from fantasy novels to technology. Those things that inspire joy and awe in you need to be part of your life, even if they aren’t part of your day job. Life is too short to ration those things that make you a better, happier human being.

© Lalit Shahane with CCLicense
© Lalit Shahane with CCLicense

In closing, I would like to leave you with one last thought. You are the protagonist of your story, a supporting character in several other stories, and an incidental character in many stories. Abdicating any of these roles has consequences. Revere the stories taking place all around you and embrace your own with relish and zest and you will be on the road to lasting enchantment. If you want to fully explore the enchanted landscape you should not close your eyes to darkness and pain, nor should you strive to never be angry. The best way to cultivate enchantment is simply to be enchanting, and that means being your most genuine, best you.

Best wishes on your journey!

kat

Window on the Universe: The Hubble Space Telescope Turns 25

Deep space photography explores the craftsmanship of the cosmos. Where do we draw the dividing line between art and science?

Hubble Space Telescope in Orbit

Hubble Space Telescope in Orbit
Credit: European Space Agency

On April 24, 1990, the Discovery Shuttle mission STS-31 launched the Hubble Space Telescope into a low orbit around the Earth, the result of decades of planning, research, funding and construction. It was not the first telescope in space, but, twenty-five years later, it remains among the most advanced and most versatile. Its position grants it the ability to observe infrared and ultraviolet light, both of which are filtered out by Earth’s protective atmosphere, and it does not have to contend with atmospheric turbulence, the force that makes the stars appear to twinkle.

The early days of the Hubble began with disappointment and embarrassment. The first images received were not of the expected quality. A fault in the main mirror, which had not been ground correctly, created blurring. NASA, already under the gun for spending money on “Buck Rogers stuff” was a public laughing stock. The fault was fixed three years later by installing corrective lenses. The result has been pure magic. Please click on the attribution links for a wealth of information on each image.

Westerlund 2, a star cluster  in the Milky Way, estimated at one to two million years old. It contains some of the hottest, brightest, and most massive stars known. The cluster resides inside a stellar breeding ground known as Gum 29, located 20,000 light-years away in the constellation Carina.

Westerlund 2, a star cluster in the Milky Way, inside the stellar nursery Gum 29, located 20,000 light-years away in the Carina constellation.

Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), A. Nota (ESA/STScI), and the Westerlund 2 Science Team

The Pillars of Creation, interstellar dust in the Eagle Nebula. The large formations are called elephant's trunks. News stars are being formed here, even as radiation and solar winds erode the dust clouds. Credit: NASA, ESA/Hubbleand the Hubble Heritage Team

The Pillars of Creation, interstellar dust in the Eagle Nebula within the Serpens Constellation, 7,000 light years from Earth. The large formations are called elephant’s trunks. New stars form here, even as radiation and solar winds erode the dust clouds. New data from the Spitzer Telescope suggests that these pillars may have already been destroyed by a supernova a few thousand years ago. 
Credit: NASA, ESA/Hubble and the Hubble Heritage Team

Towering 9.5 light year (90 trillion km) spire in the Eagle Nebula Credit: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA)

Towering 9.5 light year (90 trillion km) spire in the Eagle Nebula
Credit: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA)

For the past twenty-two years, images of a quality previously unimaginable have been taken of distant nebulae, planets and galaxies, looking far into space and time. Some of these cosmic features are billions of light years away. By the time the light from the stars reaches the Hubble, they may no longer be shining. Astronomer Edwin Powell Hubble was one of the first to espouse the the idea that the universe is expanding. His namesake has proven him correct.

Tarantula Nebula, 170,000 light years from Earth and part of the Large Magellanic Cloud. Credit: ESA/NASA, ESO and Danny LaCrue

Tarantula Nebula, 170,000 light years from Earth and part of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a nearby galaxy disrupted by multiple encounters with our Milky Way.
Credit: ESA/NASA, ESO and Danny LaCrue

Part of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a disrupted barred spiral galaxy and a close neighbor of the Milky Way. This features star cluster LH63 within emission nebula N-51 as observed  by Hubble's WFPC2 camera.  Credit: NASA, ESA, and D. Gouliermis (University of Heidelberg) Acknowledgement: Luca Limatola

Star cluster LH63 within emission nebula N-51, part of the Large Magellanic Cloud as observed by Hubble’s WFPC2 camera.
Credit:NASA, ESA, and D. Gouliermis (University of Heidelberg)
Acknowledgement: Luca Limatola

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field, full of thousands of galaxies. This is the deepest visible light image available, looking back billions of light years.

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field, full of thousands of galaxies. This is the deepest visible light image available, looking back billions of light years. . 
“The image required 800 exposures taken over the course of 400 Hubble orbits around Earth. The total amount of exposure time was 11.3 days, taken between Sept. 24, 2003 and Jan. 16, 2004.” –ESA/Hubble
Credit: NASA, ESA, and S. Beckwith (STScI) and the HUDF Team

Arp 273, two interacting galaxies in the constellation of Andromeda, about 300 million light years from Earth. The smaller one is actively forming new stars and is thought to have passed through the larger, reshaping it into a form that resembles a stemmed rose.  Credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Arp 273, two interacting galaxies in the constellation of Andromeda, about 300 million light years from Earth. The smaller one is actively forming new stars and is thought to have passed through the larger, reshaping it into a form that resembles a stemmed rose.
Credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

The Sombrero Galaxy, M104, an unbarred spiral galaxy in the constellation Virgo, is 50,000 light years across and 28 million light years from Earth.  Credit:NASA/ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA)

The Sombrero Galaxy, M104, an unbarred spiral galaxy in the constellation Virgo, is 50,000 light years across and 28 million light years from Earth.
Credit:NASA/ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA)

The high resolution images taken by the Hubble feature little to no background light, and are some of the most detailed images from outer space. This well placed telescope has been able to turn its gaze to many places and produce pictures of heavenly bodies far too dim and distant to be observed from ground based telescopes. What it hasn’t been as successful with is taking shots of planets, which are much smaller and rely on stars for luminescence. Such work is more suited to smaller, portable devices that can get the correct angle and light on the subject. As I write this, the New Horizons Spacecraft, on its journey to Pluto,  is beginning to transmit “better than Hubble” enhanced images of the dwarf planet. You can read more about that here. Jupiter, which is more than twice as massive as all of the planets in our solar system combined, has proved the easiest and most impressive planet to photograph from the large telescope.

Io, one of Jupiter's moons, in transit around the giant planet. Io travels quickly, completing an orbit of Jupiter every 1.8 days. Credit: J. Spencer (Lowell Observatory) and NASA/ESA

Io, one of Jupiter’s moons, in transit around the giant planet. Io travels quickly, completing an orbit of Jupiter every 1.8 days.
Credit: J. Spencer (Lowell Observatory) and NASA/ESA

Jupiter, featuring the Great Red Spot and the shadow of one of the planet's moons, Ganymede. Credit:NASA, ESA, and A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center) Acknowledgment: C. Go and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Jupiter, featuring the Great Red Spot and the shadow of one of the planet’s moons, Ganymede.
Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center)
Acknowledgment: C. Go and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

The Hubble is the only telescope designed to be serviced by astronauts, specifically astronauts traveling in Space Shuttles. The final servicing mission occurred in 2009, and the subsequent retirement of the Shuttles means that there is no vehicle capable of performing service to the large telescope, nor is there any means to bring it back to Earth when it fails. This beautiful window to the stars is closing. It is anticipated that the Hubble may remain in operation through 2020. If allowed to take its natural course, the Hubble is predicted to fall from orbit and re-enter the atmosphere sometime between 2030 and 2040.

Hubble has shown us the distant past, but will not be a part of the near future. It will be succeeded by the James Webb Telescope, slated for launch in 2018.

The images the Hubble has collected have changed and reshaped our knowledge and perception of outer space, revealing both order and chaos. They have enlarged our sense of wonder, simultaneously giving us pride in human achievement and humility in our extreme provinciality and insignificance.

Infrared image of the Horsehead Nebula in Orion. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI)

Infrared image of the Horsehead Nebula in the Orion Constellation.
Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI)

In the Butterfly Nebula, 20,000 degree (Celsius) gas shoots into space at more than 950,000 km/h. This nebula surrounds a red giant near the constellation Scorpius, about 3,800 light years away. Credit:NASA, ESA and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team

In the Butterfly Nebula, 20,000 degree (Celsius) gas shoots into space at more than 950,000 km/h. This nebula surrounds a red giant near the constellation Scorpius, about 3,800 light years away.
Credit:NASA, ESA and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team

Pismus 24 star cluster in the nebula NGC6357, about 8,000 light years from earth in the Scorpius Constellation.  Credit: NASA, ESA and Jesús Maíz Apellániz (Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, Spain). Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin (ESA/Hubble)

Pismus 24 star cluster in the nebula NGC6357, about 8,000 light years from earth in the Scorpius Constellation.
Credit: NASA, ESA and Jesús Maíz Apellániz (Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, Spain). Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin (ESA/Hubble)

The bright star RS Puppis, a Cepheid variable star in the constellation Puppis, roughly 6,500 light years away and surrounded by dust. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)-Hubble/Europe Collaboration Acknowledgment: H. Bond (STScI and Penn State University)

The bright star RS Puppis, a Cepheid variable star in the constellation Puppis, roughly 6,500 light years away and surrounded by dust.
Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)-Hubble/Europe Collaboration
Acknowledgment: H. Bond (STScI and Penn State University)

New stars forming in N90, a  stellar nursery in the constellation Hydrus, 200,000 light years away. Credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration

New stars forming in N90, a stellar nursery in the constellation Hydrus, 200,000 light years away.
Credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration

M51, The Whirlpool Galaxy, about 25 million light years from Earth in the constellation Canes Venatici, and its companion NGC 5195, which has been passing behind it for millions of years.  Credit: NASA, ESA, S. Beckwith (STScI), and The Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA)

M51, The Whirlpool Galaxy, about 25 million light years from Earth in the constellation Canes Venatici, and its companion NGC 5195, which has been passing behind it for millions of years.
Credit: NASA, ESA, S. Beckwith (STScI), and The Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA)

The Antennae galaxies in the constellation Corvus are two galaxies in collision.   Formerly arranged into spiral galaxies, stars have been flung out into space. The nuclei of the galaxies will one day collide, resulting in one large elliptical galaxy. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

The Antennae Galaxies in the constellation Corvus are two galaxies in collision. Formerly arranged into spiral galaxies, stars have been flung out into space. The nuclei of the galaxies will one day collide, resulting in one large elliptical galaxy.
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

Mystic Mountain, in the constellation Carina. The formation is three light years tall, full of baby stars letting off jets of gas.  "Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 observed the pillar on 1-2 February 2010. The colours in this composite image correspond to the glow of oxygen (blue), hydrogen and nitrogen (green), and sulphur (red)." --ESA/Hubble Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI)

Mystic Mountain, in the constellation Carina, about 7,500 light years away. The formation is three light years tall, full of baby stars letting off jets of gas.
Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI)

Binary star system Eta Carinae within the Homunculus Nebula, which lies within  in the Carina Nebula and Constellation, about 7,500 light years away from Earth. This shows a false supernova which stopped short of killing the star. "This image, taken with the Advanced Camera for Surveys High Resolution Channel is the most detailed yet, and shows how the material from the star was not thrown out in a uniform manner, but forms a huge dumbbell shape." --ESA/Hubble Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

Binary star system Eta Carinae lies within the Homunculus Nebula, inside the Carina Nebula and Constellation, about 7,500 light years away from Earth. This shows a false supernova which stopped short of killing the star.
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

Star Cluster NGC 3603 in the Constellation of Carina, 20,000 light years away. Credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration

Star Cluster NGC 3603 in the Constellation of Carina, 20,000 light years away.
Credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration

The red giant, U Camelopardalis, a small carbon star 1500 light years   away. As the star deteriorates, it emanates a bubble of gas once every few thousand years. "The image was produced with the High Resolution Channel of the Advanced Camera for Surveys." --ESA/Hubble Credit: ESA/Hubble, NASA and H. Olofsson (Onsala Space Observatory)

The red giant, U Camelopardalis, a small carbon star 1,500 light years away. As the star deteriorates, it emanates a bubble of gas once every few thousand years.
Credit: ESA/Hubble, NASA and H. Olofsson (Onsala Space Observatory)