They say that childhood is a magical time. It was for me, for all sorts of reasons. It’s the time when we experience enchantment on a daily basis; we become spellbound with fascination for all sorts of things. Hence the term ‘magical’, I guess.
Now and again I still get a whiff of the enchantment I felt by, for example, going into a bicycle shop. Even today that bike-shop smell of newness and fresh rubber can trigger the tingle of anticipation and wonder I felt as I wandered wide-eyed into our local pedal-merchant.
There are other times when it happens; a place or situation evokes a momentary sensation so fleeting I barely register it. It comes with another feeling too, regret. It’s ever so subtle, but it’s always there, tied to a glimpse of something lost.
We can still feel enchantment as we get older, and though we can’t actually create it’s spontaneity, it does get easier to anticipate. We even try to buy it with new and ever more stunning experiences, but who are we kidding? The quality of adult enchantment is of a lower grade. New things no longer pique our senses in the same way; either experience has blunted our appreciation and we no longer believe in magic the way we once did.
Is it also that another aspect of childhood enchantment is rarity or unattainability? The bike-shop experience, Santa’s grotto, riding in a horse-drawn carriage… these are things that are redolent of what we can’t have, so they are tinged with longing, even as we experience them.
What for passes adult enchantment is the ersatz version; we can create the excitement of anticipation, but never the sense of longing.
(With thanks to Harry Norman for prompting me with this).