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  • Writer's pictureAnne Hodges White

The Goldilocks Zone

Search for a place that’s ‘just right’ … says the fairy tale.

Looking for a place to write is like the astrophysicist’s search for a planet in the Goldilocks Zone. A trial-and-error pursuit that requires some legwork. The perfect place: not too hot, not too cold, not too wet, not too dry, light aplenty but not blinding, habitable but not overrun, a quiet background buzz but not a cacophony, an environment to like, not much to dislike, few distractions but services available, a cellphone to switch off, letting in only the few, a plug and a wi-fi connection. A place that was there yesterday and will be there tomorrow, undisturbed, never mind bankruptcies, corporate takeovers, or global oil prices. A place I can count on. Forever.

If it’s a room high in the house, then one with an active tree to watch, deer and turkeys and birds to follow on seasonal parade around and through the rhododendrons. Well chosen and carefully placed art to appreciate at the end of a difficult paragraph. Shells and photos with memories attached. Is it too quiet in here?

Or if a café—only my special corner table will do, thank you—with a computer plug nearby. A wide window and a full menu of Starbucks coffees. Is that guy over there on his cell phone hawking faux furs to Romania?

Place: consistent and permanent and mine forever. (An aside: Would we make plans for our futures, have children, save our money, or take on projects that require time if we really believed in impermanence? Is our naiveté hardwired? Doesn’t our denial ensure the survival of the species? Well, no matter …)

Looking for the Goldilocks Zone is like life. Find the sweet spot, maintain that orbit, as fixed and eternal as Johannes Kepler’s precise calculations predicted, and hold onto it. When a small voice whispers, “That too would be impermanent. That would not last,” work all the harder to push into more solid ground.

But just in case the small voice is right, I’ve learned to write anywhere. The Muse and I continue our search for the perfect place. “Where is it?” I ask. But you know what they say about cross-examining The Muse …

Search for a place that’s “just right” … says the fairy tale.


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