It used to be one of my favourite science lessons – cheap, easy and fun: give the kids a bowl, some cornflour (I think Americans call it cornstarch) and a jug of water. Tell them to try mixing the cornflour and water slowly and they’d get a nice, smooth liquid. Tell them to hit the mixture with the spoon or try beating it vigorously and it would splatter them with goo and/or become a slimy solid. ‘A non-Newtonian liquid’, I’d tell them; ‘a thixotropic substance’ – from the Greek thixis, “the act of handling” and trope, “change”.
So why am I reminiscing about my teaching days? Because it’s just occurred to me (with a little help from my Guides) that our lives are – like the cornflour goo – thixotropic. The way we handle them changes the way they work in exactly the manner described above.
As regular readers will know, last year I started up a very small cottage industry with one of my sons, making steampunk-style miniature figures, gadgets, dolls’ house rooms and jewellery. He set up an online store. I started a blog to link to it. It all looked very promising and there has been plenty of interest. Sales, though, have been almost non-existent. The stock was piling up and we were getting disheartened. So, encouraged by my other son and daughter, I’ve spent the last few weeks madly learning new tricks (difficult for an old dog) – attempting to master Instagram, creating a new business page on Facebook, approaching museums, shops, magazines… and generally running myself into a state of anxiety and frustration.
Yesterday I stopped.
I turned off the social media and tuned in to my Guides. “What am I doing wrong?” I asked. “I’m trying to create my own reality. I can’t push any harder. Whatever I do, it’s making me feel bad and it’s not having any appreciable results.”
I felt the smile they sent me. Into my mind they placed the memory of that science lesson.
“I’ve been bashing the goo, haven’t I?” I exclaimed, as realisation flooded in. “That’s why it has blocked up. I need to slow down, to go with the flow, to drift lightly and follow all the synchronicities that come along. As simple as that.”
‘As simple as that,’ my Guides agreed.
So maybe old dogs can learn new tricks after all. I may never master the intricacies of Instagram, but in future I will apply the Cornflour Test to the way I move towards my intended goals.