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The Slinky Effect™

One of my clearest memories of my childhood is of playing on the stairs of our tiny apartment with my beloved slinky.  One of the good ole’ metal ones.  At some point I was taught that I could put my slinky at the top of the stairs, give it a little push, and watch it tumble over itself all… the way… down.  I was tremendously pleased with myself and my slinky every time it made this dance, perfectly and beautifully, its metal gleaming, collecting itself in one motion, springing away from itself in another, reaching the bottom landing with a satisfying plop.

I still remember it as a thing of curious beauty: it had done what it was set in motion to do.  It was built a certain way which, barring any injury to the body of the thing, would make it behave predictably in certain situations.  Its motions were comforting in that way; I knew what I could expect if the slinky were set on a particular trajectory.

And yet, in other situations, the slinky would behave erratically.  If the slinky were asked — by way of being thrown or used as a jump rope by me or my nephew, both of us acting with the genteel nature of humans under the age of six — to act in a way out of cooperation with its general mobility and purpose, it would get kinked or stretched and end up totally useless.

It’s not a terribly eloquent metaphor, but I believe that in our interiors, we humans are a lot like slinkys.

Imagine that you are built precisely in a way which will allow you to flow easily and smoothly under optimal conditions.  When you are in an inspired, full-bodied relationship, for instance.  Or doing a job that generates aliveness in you.  Or having a conversation with someone who sees you and ignites your soul fire.  When laughing your ass off, cooking, or makin’ good love on a Sunday morning.  (A personal favorite.)  In these situations, you move in natural expansion and contraction, just like Señor Slinky.  You bound, you stay collected but flexible, you move and stretch and dance and have inherently self-organized and clear momentum.

But there are situations where you are asked to behave unnaturally: in a relationship that leaves you feeling hollow or hungry; in work that requires you to be small or confined; in friendships that are not adequately generous; in communication that is wrought with conflict and unkindness.  In these situations, just like Señor Slinky, you get all fuckered up, kinked, stretched far too thin, and become basically useless and quite honestly: you’re just not fun anymore.

This is my gut talking: I believe we are built for fluidity, that the mechanism that is our internal compass has full range of motion.  Our unique constitutions are not inhibited when we are moving in a way that is natural to us.  I believe, when not ill or injured — internally or externally — we act out of wholeness, out of innate, automatic fluidity.  We function in accordance with our natures: to be flexible and fun and gleaming.

I find evidence of this NASA-level Slinky theory everywhere in my life: I feel downright springy and inspired — and so do the people around me — when I/we are moving as we are meant to move through the world.  I think this is as it was meant to be.  That our trajectory was set in place, say, at birth, and that each of us carry within us a blueprint to our greatest fulfillment: to be and live out exactly what we are, and no less.  (I’ve found that looking to the natal chart seems to be a shockingly clear depiction of our trajectory and end-point, but that is a different post all together.)  I think that when we can begin to recognize where we’re out of sync with our true natures, we can begin to recognize what’s needed to restore natural rhythms.

The point is: damn, it feels good to be a Slinky™.


P.S.  Here’s one of the awesome things that comes up when you search for “funny slinky meme.”  You know, for the next time you need to do that.  (Warning: it gets a little stressful around 2:37.)

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