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ZEN AND THE GOLDILOCKS FALLACY

April 20th, 2019

Earth is hypothesized to be in some kind of ‘Goldilocks Zone’.  It’s not too hot as is the case with Venus which demonstrates a total runaway Greenhouse effect, and not too cold as with frozen Neptune.  Although probably not necessary, it’s also fairly amazing that the size and distance of both the sun and the moon create objects of equal size in our skies, making lunar and solar eclipses possible.

 

The conditions described by the size and heat of the sun and our distance from that star that create the ‘Goldilocks Zone’.

 

We should keep in mind the sly double use of the word ‘condition’.  For example, it’s the conditions in which we find ourselves that condition how we perform.

 

As with the sun and the Earth, we can also say that the Earth has been conditioned into its current form by it’s distance from the sun and the effect it has at that distance.

 

We can think of this even more literally.  If we find ourselves on a beach surrounded by friends and family, with refreshments all around and just the perfect temperature and nothing in recent pressing memory to worry us, than chances are the conditions are ripe to relax.  If however we find ourselves being chased down a dark alley, we might say that the conditions are not ripe for relaxation.  On the contrary, the circumstance is conditioning us to be alert and very active.

 

But unlike the Earth or Venus or Neptune, none of which explicitly chose their spot in the solar system, we as people have a bidirectional relationship with our conditions.  Not only do our circumstances condition us, but we can condition our circumstances to better suit our hypotheses about how to live a better life.

 

A trivial example is someone who’s current station in life requires them to sleep in late, as is the case with shift workers.  And yet, the condition this creates, i.e. sleeping when the sun is up and our circumstance is flooded with light, has terrible effects on the quality of a person’s sleep.  Such a person, however, can fashion or buy some black-out curtains, and like Hamlet, create an artificial night, which creates conditions that are more hospitable to the phenomenon of good sleep.

 

This is a clear-cut example where the conditions are in direct conflict with biology.  But most circumstances are not so much in conflict with our biological systems as they are in conflict with our opinions and perspectives.

 

Orienting one’s physical circumstances to best optimize conditions for physical and biological health is not terribly difficult and there is endless advice about these realms in order to get ideas to experiment with new behaviors and conditions that will work best for a given individual.

 

 

However, outside of these straight-forward physical conditions, many face unwinnable battles due to constraints of opinion and mentality.

 

This arena is perhaps most ripe for reconditioning because so much more is possible within the realm of thought and imagination than in the physical world.  This is perhaps a blessing and a curse, but to focus on the blessing is to nullify the ways in which it can be a curse.

 

We can, for example, imagine Goldilocks walking into that fateful cabin to find only one bowl of porridge that isn’t just right, but is perhaps too hot.  How might Goldilocks react to this situation?  Would she get bent out of shape and cry at her misfortune?  Or would she still see the fortune in such a circumstance and simply patiently wait for the porridge to cool?  Are we best to only hunt for the perfect circumstances?  Or should we also hunt around in our minds for the ideal way to look at any circumstance?

 

 

We can likewise imagine if Goldilocks had found a bowl of porridge too cold, would she have cried about it? Or would she have wondered if it’s possible to enjoy cold porridge anyhow? 

 

Indeed just about anything tastes good if you’re hungry enough,

 

but that,

 

is a different condition.


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Podcast Ep. 370: Zen and The Goldilocks Fallacy

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Tinkered Thinking


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