Wednesday, December 3, 2008
The Tao of Goldilocks
I've been re-reading Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez, one of my favorite nature books. The book is well worn because I've read it so many times. In fact, it looks like my favorite cookbooks, dog-eared, automatically falling open to certain pages. Well worn, but well loved is my copy of Arctic Dreams.
One of the things I love about the book is that it describes, in no uncertain terms, how EXTREME the natural world is. In the Arctic, there's no such thing as moderation. One species after another takes center stage, increasing in numbers in a fast and furious way until the environment can no longer support it, after which another species will rise.
Some species must grasp any chance for omnipotence, like mosquitoes, for instance - because the summers are so short. So they really pour it on as soon as the sun rises high enough for them to hatch. They aren't around for a long time, but during mosquito season, there are a LOT of mosquitoes. A whole lot.
The amazing Tam of the blog Fleeing Muses posted this week about how extreme the seasons are in the valley where she grew up (in the southeastern corner of Africa, so about as far away from the Arctic as you can get).
What touched me about her post is the way Tam expresses homesickness for that land of extremes. It's a revelation for me to imagine feeling homesick for such a place.
All of my adult life, I have strained to become a more moderate person, to incorporate what I call the Tao of Goldilocks. I've worked my butt off trying to find a way to live in the world that is "just right" - neither too hot nor too cold, too soft or too hard, too large or too small. I tilt towards the Tao of Goldilocks whenever I can. It is a good life strategy, I think.
At the end of the day, though, no matter how much I try to channel Goldilocks, my soul is more Arctic, more Luangwa, than gentle and moderate. I am so grateful to Barry Lopez, to Tam and all the rest of my friends who live in Africa for reminding me it's OK to own my extreme nature. It's really OK. Thanks, ya'll!