Thursday, November 12, 2009

Aspiring for Goldilocks

Goldilocks isn't just for children anymore.

Scientist/author James Lovelock refers to Earth as the Goldilocks planet in his writing about the Gaia Hypothesis. To better understand this reference, some quick review is in order: Goldilocks comes to a house in the woods, enters, and finds porridge/chairs/beds that are too hot/hard/big or too cold/soft/small, and finally those that were just right/just right/just right. Got it?

Anyway, Lovelock uses the Goldilocks reference to explain how amazing Earth is. It is at the perfect distance from a perfectly sized star to allow for liquid water and the evolution of life into myriad forms. Other planets in this system are either too big/small or too hot/cold. Earth is just right/just right.

The Goldilocks tale can also be used in reference to other aspects of living as well. In the midst of a good discussion with daughter Erin about scenario planning, it occurred to me that one of the marks of the good life is finding the balance point between having high control needs on the one hand, and feeling totally out of control on the other.

For example, I have tried to employ this philosophy (with sporadic success) in regard to money management. In regard to to managing money/spending/investing, the aim is to avoid becoming obsessive/miserly/obsessive without falling into laissez faire/profligate/careless behaviors. In other words, manage carefully while avoiding anxiety.

In almost any pursuit, somewhere between the extremes there is a balance point that we might aspire to attain, a Goldilocks position. I'm willing to visit the extremes every now and again, but rather than forever seeking the "X" life, I'm aspiring for Goldilocks. That feels just right/just right/just right.

At least until the bears come home.

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