What Corn Starch and Water Can Teach You (the Dalai Lama Would Agree)

It’s an amazingly sunny day with a perfect breeze. We have nothing to do and nowhere to go. “I’m starting a fire in the fire pit,” I say. “Do whatever you want.” Translation: I’m busy and will be here building my fire. If you don’t want to hang out here, please do whatever you want.

Michael proclaims that he wants to look up backyard experiments. He finds and announces the experiment he wants to do today . . . it’s with corn starch and water. It’s not what I expected. He’s done that one before, but today finds itself as one without expectation. It’s my favorite kind of day. I let him know, “Hunh, that’s not what I expected, but have fun.” And he disappears inside the house, while I sit on the driveway tending my fire.

On days like this we simply co-exist. Mason is content with playing the piano, eating a carrot, and just sitting with his feet facing the ceiling and his head pointing to the floor. Michael moves around with his typical energy—but he is calm within the constant movement. I don’t take his calm for granted. That calm is why it will be a perfect day for us and that calm is a necessary ingredient for this kind of day.

I’m so happy there are no plans. I just want to start a fire in the fire pit next to my garden. And if it takes three hours, then that is what I will do.

My fire is not lighting. Sigh. The wood I’m trying to burn is still “green.” Mason picked it up from the side of the road, and I didn’t really know if it would burn or not. I’m disappointed, for sure, but not sad or mad. I’m simply resigned to my fire not lighting and that’s OK. Pretty much I’m just sitting and staring at the garden after a good thirty minutes of trying to get this green wood to light.

The lesson for all of us

I decide to go in and check out what Michael and Mason have decided to do. Mason is reading upside-down. Michael is at the kitchen table covered in his blue gloopy-gloppy substance. Michael exclaims, “Hey, I know how this could be used for a meditative practice.”

Intrigued, I pull up a chair at the table and say, “I’m listening.”

“Well, when you move your hands slowly, the mixture is a liquid and flows freely.” He demonstrates with his hands in the blue goo. “But if you go quickly and try to force it, it breaks. Just like life.” He thrusts his hand into the bowl, and the mixture looks momentarily like dry cracked earth.

My first thought is how freaking happy I am to have him for a son. I think about how happy I am that he even knows about how life can *flow*. Do all kids know about being flexible as life comes at you? Do all kids who struggle with OCD understand, when things happen that aren’t predictable, that it is we who must adjust? I don’t think so. I don’t think that all kids are aware of the constant adjustments necessary to be in a flowing “dance,” if you will, within our daily lives.

I love when life flows. I absolutely love today, even though my fire didn’t happen. My son, per usual, is teaching me something of the great masters. He is my constant teacher and I his student. Today, I am sitting with him at our table, learning and remembering to move slowly with life. I am showing up for my lesson to stop trying to “force” my parts of my life.

Here’s my son with all of these “labels” (OCD, ASD, PDD, etc. ). And he is hugely aware of meditation and centering himself and calming his mind. He knows the benefits and power of peace within. He has learned about it and on some level, dare I say that I believe, he strives for it daily. It’s not easy for him by any means, but he understands what is needed to enjoy a calm life. That is the most important thing in my opinion.

I highly recommend that you take this gift from my son and go put your hands in some gloopy, gloppy goo (recipe below). I recommend that you really think about what you’re forcing in your life. I invite you to think about where you could be slower and more methodical. Because as you just learned, life, if you force it, could very well break. But if you move slowly with life, it will flow easily with you.

And I certainly invite you to show up for lessons when they are being taught, especially if your teacher is a child.

Sent with love and kindness.

The recipe

Mix together in a bowl:

1 cup of water

1.5 cups of corn starch



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