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!

17 comments:

tut-tut said...

What an apt term. And a self-portrait in a manner only you could take. A nice start to the day, even if I am playing hooky from yoga . . .

Washington Cube said...

Nature is so extreme, the excess of acorns last year has left us with no acorns this year. I know this because my squirrels posted a memo to me off their tiny (but cute) printer and cut out a Washington Post article on the same topic. They sit on top of garbage cans and wave goodbye to me when I leave calling out, "Don't forget the peanuts."

Angela said...

I once met a man who was terribly homesick for Siberia. I was just incredulous, "I thought that was the place where people were banned!" "Yes," he admitted, "and yes, it is COLD in winter, well for nine months, but in SUMMER, oh, how bwautiful it is! All the birches shimmer white, and the sun is out all day, and flowers and birds are about, its beauty cannot be compared with anything!" "And what about poverty?" I wondered. "Yes," he said,"we all steal from each other and then we drink vodka and feel very happy when nobody owns anything but we are friends." Not a bad life, either, apparently. Stick to your ways, Reya!

Reya Mellicker said...

Angela you are the best! You should write a book about your encounters with people from all over the world.

Cube - You're right! There ARE no acorns - how weird. Nothing to play the cymbals in your backyard, what a shame.

Tut - Everything in moderation - even yoga!!

deborah said...

two totally different comments:

one of my all time fave books is Einstein's Dreams (it has nothing to do with nature)

secondly, do you know about how creatures are cooperating? there is some new movement which scientists cannot yet explain in which little spiders who have never worked together built a giant web and trapped hundreds of thousands of swamp mosquitoes(sp?):
fish and their prey, fleeing an ocean deadzone--left together with the fish coming to the brink of starvation in their new location in order to let the prey get established first; mountain lions hunting deer together in south KC--first time ever working together.

something has shifted
loving you with complete immoderation

willow said...

Tao of Goldilocks. I like that. We all need to find our own spot that is "j u s t" right. And it's not as easy as it sounds.

What is really amazing today, though, is your photos! WOW.

deborah said...

ps you look like Goldilocks!

love you

tam said...

well Reya i'm blown away by that mirror you held up for me. And the fact that apparently i held one up for you. Certainly my nature is one of extremes. And i am constantly searching for stability and moderation and rebelling against it when i have it. I love to inhabit the in between zones, the liminal spaces. We are always in the process of becoming.

Reya Mellicker said...

Deborah we are in the age of Aquarius now. Things definitely have shifted.

Don't you think I look like Silverylocks? Definitely not a blond.

Tam? You and I are lucky to know each other. So lucky. Thank you.

Steve said...

I'm a firm believer in moderation, as you know. Extremes can be both beautiful and terrifying.

I used to have a copy of Arctic Dreams but I never read it, and eventually I gave it away. I guess I need to get another copy!

Squirrel said...

what a great post and how good you look in that reflection!

Barbara Martin said...

Interesting look at life and an intriguing way to take a photo of yourself in the street. Good stuff.

k-brow said...

I love Barry Lopez's writing. Arctic Dreams is pure poetry. What a treat to see you in that mirror in your little red riding jacket!

Gary said...

The Tao of Goldilocks, I love it. I think my soul is a bit more Artic as well.

ArtSparker said...

You might enjoy reading Elizabeth Arthur's Antarctic Navigation, about a very extreme character and her obsessive need to recreate Scott's expedition to the the South Pole. Nice to see you on the threshold - I read Tam's comment on liminal spaces, great phrase.

Squirrel said...

We had plenty o acorns in the Catskills this year (but then these are Eastern Red Oak trees and we've had lots of rain ) they were all over the place so I had no idea there was a shortage -- In Nyack we have black walnut trees--the squirrels love them.

lettuce said...

hello reya *waves*

tao of goldilocks, thats brilliant

:-)