Life Lessons from a Slinky

Every product on the store shelves has served a purpose at one time or another. Most were developed to solve a problem. Some were created to fuel fun or to bring on smiles. Others were complete mistakes—built for one reason and used for another. Such is the case with the iconic Slinky toy.

For generations, kids (and adults alike) have watched Slinky toys flip flop over themselves as they “walked” down a flight of stairs. But while this tumbling toy is fun to play with, it can open a world of wonder and provide some much-needed perspective. Playing with this coiled wire can lead to snags, tangles, and even some frustration. A Slinky that becomes a tangled mess leaves us with a choice—we can either give up, toss it, and walk away or we can sit down and work at unraveling the coils until it is close to “new” once more. And while the fixed Slinky never really bounces as cleanly as it did before the tangles formed, the slight imperfections that resulted cause it to move in a new pattern as it finds its own unique path.

From this perspective, a Slinky becomes a metaphor for so many of life’s experiences. How many times have you been faced with a dilemma? It might be easier to close the door and walk away then face it head-on. In some cases, leaving is the right decision. But putting time and attention into fixing what is “broken” can help you to see it from a new perspective. And once you’ve sorted it through and are on the other side, you might find that the path you’re now on—although different—is brighter and happier than the one you once traveled.

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