The Goldilocks Zone

November 10, 2013 

Astronomers believe there are at least 8.8 billion stars in the Milky Way with Earth-size planets orbiting them. That’s about 1 of every 5 stars. They call these planets the Goldilocks Zone, not too hot or too cold for life to sustain itself. I don’t relate to this zone, for I have lived too hot or too cold all my life. I can imagine my long-time friends nodding their heads.

The cosmic dice rolled, a 1-in-8.8 billion chance lottery, and we evolved. Which brings up the nature/nurture debate, nativists versus empiricists. I believe we are products of both: Plato and Descartes’ views that we are born with inherited characteristics, fully formed and reacting to nature; and Locke’s Tabula Rosa theory, that we start out life as blank slates and accumulate and act upon knowledge.

Yesterday I took my first Genehouse walk post-surgery. There was a riffling breeze and leaves fell like rain. In the river, 36 snowy egrets, acting in cooperative fashion, rounded up schools of minnows. The alpha egret raised its wings in a back stroke position and the others followed suit. Thus, they “rowed” on air backwards as a line, their long legs and chorus line as straight as the famous Rockettes of Rockerfeller Center. Then collective wings turned and rowed upstream, westward, toward a cove between islands. The outer line closed in and the birds formed a circle and speared madly with their beaks, feasting on the lured-in minnows in their trap, the circle closing until there was a gaggle of egrets, looking like a giant white mum. They repeated this behavior for as long as I watched. This was a textbook Goldilocks Zone.

Most of my friends are in the Zone, which is fortunate for me. They live ordered lives and keep me grounded, yet they appreciate my role as Storyteller of the tribe. One needs chaos to create. I was born in chaos so I would say that I had no chance to be a part of the Zone but I could visit it from time to time.

One of my closest friends remarked that she was thrilled to not be me. Yet, she loves stories from the Beyond and I am happy to oblige, and I am looking forward to returning to her and being in the Zone for a few days.

Yesterday there were thousands of ladybugs, both native and the Chinese variety that bites, swarming around me as I walked, and filling my front porch, crunching underfoot, for that one opportunity to enter the warm house. There were brave worker bees, seeking a last bit of pollen. Ground-feeding juncos have arrived for winter and they skittered helter-skelter along the trail. The goldfinches had changed to olive drab clothes. Duck blinds lined the islands, and volleys of shot rang out. Carved pumpkins caved in on themselves on stoops and porches, far scarier-looking than when they were fresh.

And that was that. I returned to the house, out of the Goldilocks Zone of the country, stared through the windows and ate a peanut butter sandwich and an apple, then turned to the word processor for another existentialist journey to inner space.

Do I wish I fit in? Yes. Do I wish it hard enough?







About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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