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Right Outside the Goldilocks Zone

Image credit: Andrew Caw –
Solar System (artist’s impression)

Mars is the closest thing there is to Earth (not just in distance) and scientists believe it could support life, just not Life as We Know it On Earth.

Earth is in the “Goldilocks Zone,” while Mars is on the fringe of it. That’s the “just right” area in our solar system not only to support life, but life so lush and varied that it boggles the mind how we became who we are and what we are—Random Acts of Nature. Random is comforting to me, inspires discovery and thought, and actually has organization or it becomes Complete Chaos. Many times what seems to be Complete Chaos is really organized splendor. Nature never gives up—always changing, always moving. Adapting to its environment, sometimes beautifully and sometimes dangerously and sometimes disastrously but always marvelously.

Mars is smaller than Earth but has two moons, which makes it nice to visit, because I like moons. Though, it’s often difficult to see the moons because of the howling wind dust storms kicking up, some of which last a month long.  The sunset tinges the sky blue. Blue sunsets on a red planet—real stuff! It snows on Mars, too.  Though there may be snows we are familiar with, carbon-dioxide snow also falls there, so it’d be like a dry-ice snow; ain’t gonna build  a snowman with that. With all the wonders of the universe to fuel our imaginations, we could do anything we wanted in our writing, as long as we convince our audience that it is really truly Truly Real whether it is real or not real or maybe is or maybe not—blue sunsets, dry-ice snow, purple skin, wolves with wings, clouds that rain diamonds (actually, liquid diamonds fall on Neptune and Uranus, but that’s for another day).

From space, Mars is beautiful. Standing on Mars, well, it’s a bit rough. The red of The Red Planet is from so much iron in the soil. And it’s cold. 80 degrees below zero. And dang it, I forgot my coat on Pluto. Oh well! When you are by yourself a lot, you don’t have anyone to remind you to grab your coat, or to make sure your shirt isn’t on inside out, or fix the tag that’s sticking up in the back, or acknowledge your existence when you return to Earth from Mars. There’s no one to say: “Why aren’t you writing?—if you write another book, I bet it’ll be a best seller! I know you’ll make a lot of money! Never give up on your dreams! Writers write, right? You can do it! I believe in you! Are you okay?” Actually, those things are meant to encourage and support but strangely you often find they make you anxious and you feel cornered and stressed and pressured and want to tell them to stop it and you know to think this way feels Just Wrong but there you go thinking it.

But! There’s no one to see how your royalty checks have shrunk, and then tell you, “Hey! That’s okay! Write that next book! I know that one will make you a zillionaire!” I like how I can open that envelope all by myself and shrug and say, “Welp, at least I get a royalty check! I have written books; I have books out there published—no one can take that away from me, not even me. And I’ll do it again when I’m good and damned ready to. Now, I’ll take this check and think about how lucky I am, while I still get one *skips off zippity do dah day*.”

On Mars there  are canyons, volcanoes, craters. Clouds, fog, wind. Tornados. There’s gravity—one-third less than Earth has. If you dropped a cup of coffee on Mars, it would fall slower than if you dropped that cup of coffee on Earth; maybe you have time to grab it before it ka-splats, but then I suppose everything would move slower, including you. Might take you fifty-galleven times longer to write that novel, moving so sloooooo…oooo…ooooow. 

If you weigh 100 pounds on Earth, you’d only weigh 37 pounds on Mars. If you weigh 100 pounds on Earth and you are an adult over five feet—eat something! You also jump higher on Mars, about 3 feet off the ground and stay aloft a bit longer. Wheeee! Though after a while, jumping higher means nothing if there’s nothing to jump for, or no one to show how high you are jumping and laughing while you scream “Isn’t this cool?” We must have witness to coolness or it just doesn’t feel as cool. Imagine writing a book and no one reads it—we need a witness to make things feel Real. So, for me, that kind of makes the “I write for me … I don’t care if anyone reads it” statement ring a little hollow.

It takes a little less than twice as long for a year to pass on Mars than it does on Earth—plenty more time to fail writing your next novel; am I right? Haha! Or, plenty of time to write that big ol’  best seller! Whoohooo! Or, plenty of time to write your ass off and do it with joy and whatever happens, happens, but you did your best. You choose the attitude and let that guide you.

A day on Mars is about forty minutes longer than on Earth. What to do with those forty minutes? What to do? What to do? Waste it? Make it count? Dream. Live. Laugh.  Get out and meet people. Date or fall in love (lawd). Discover. Be. Lie in the grass and remember how human you are and isn’t that free’ing?

Scientists think that at one time the Mars planet could have had liquid water, perhaps an ocean bigger than our Atlantic Ocean. They think that something ha-uuuuge may have struck Mars and flung out a lot of its almost-Goldilocks atmosphere into space—I’ve lived that chaotic way much of my life. Parts of me flung out into space so that I am left altered—all howling winds and dust storms and I am next to all this Life and Abundance and I am not Goldilocks—Not Just Right. I’m okay with the Not Just Right part, but I’m working on the Chaotic Flung Out part. Doing that in my writing, too: I wrote my other novels all flung out by-the-seat-of-my-pantster (not with Complete Chaos, but with Random Freedom). The new book I’m working on will have to be more Plotted. More Outlined. Ungh! It huuurrrts my brain! But. But. But. Why not try? Why not ignore the voice that says, “You aren’t cut out for that kind of writing” and instead just give it the ol’ try. I’ll use my extra forty Mars minutes to outline. Ha!

It may seem as if Mars is a story unfinished. As if a writer began this great novel and then grew bored and rushed to finish it and left it as it was because Earth caught their wandering wondering eye and it was in the perfect place to create something more dynamic and diverse and fascinating in all its wonders. Yet, Mars is this wondrous planet all on its own. Beautiful and interesting and remarkable just as it is. Some will love it. Some will not. Some will be uninterested. Some will prefer the lushness of Earth and balk at the harshness of Mars.

Really, though, Mars doesn’t require anything more or less than what it is.

As I lie in bed at night looking out at the stars and as the Earth Moon shines on my right foot, I know just how Mars-like I and my writing and my books can be—nothing more or less than what I am and they are. But I cast my eye towards the possibilities—what else is there; what else can I create?

Now I am curious: What would you do with your extra forty Mars minutes?

About Kathryn Magendie

Kathryn Magendie is an Amazon Kindle Bestselling Author of five novels and a novella, as well as short stories, essays, and poetry —Tender Graces was an Amazon Kindle Number 1 bestseller. She’s a freelance editor of many wonderful authors’ books and stories, a sometimes personal trainer, amateur/hobby photographer, and former Publishing Editor of The Rose & Thorn Journal (an online literary journal published with Publishing Editor Poet/Songwriter Angie Ledbetter). Magendie’s stories, essays, poetry, and photography have been published in print and online publications.From her porch over-looking the Great Smoky Mountains she contemplates the glow of Old Moon—Cove Crow and his family speak to her and she listens.


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About Mary Ellen Bellusci

Mary Ellen Bellusci is a longtime resident of Baltimore, Maryland... A foodie, traveler, writer, and pursuer of happiness.