Transformation is seductive, whether held in alchemy’s promise of base metals turned to gold, Michael Pollan’s courtly endorsement of psychedelics, or the magical tales we return to over and over. Take the selkie-folk of the Orkney Islands, for instance—a mythological seal-people who emerge from the ocean, shed their skins for safekeeping in some sea cave along the shore, and comfort the lonely with their heroic sexual prowess, like versatile mermaids. Of course, more workaday transformations can also be wondrous: look at the efforts of Rouble Nagi, an artist in Mumbai who recruited volunteers to help bring new life to the city’s vast slums, painting formerly drab homes in vibrant colours. It’s the time of year for this kind of thing, albeit more ephemerally: who among us is immune to the charm of wreaths on doors, candelabra winking in windows, and strings of lights illuminating city squares? The transformations we enact may be aesthetic or spiritual; and change may take the form of regression or even of stasis, deliberate or accidental, as often as ‘progress’. The more we embrace that possibility, the more level we’ll be.