I spy with my little eye

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…, who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
― Theodore Roosevelt

As I recall it, my dad got our first car when I was somewhere between eight and ten. He barely knew how to drive it, but within months we headed on our first road trip to Mount Rushmore. Somewhere in Minnesota or South Dakota my sister and I were directed to count something – it might have been bison or cows, but I recall telephone posts. I also recall being told to shut up because the counting had become as tedious as our previous game: seeing how close we could get to touching one another without actually doing so.

The counting game was some variant of I Spy, that game traditionally played in a car where the Spy silently picks an object that everyone can see, but does not immediately share the name of the object. Instead, they say, “I spy with my little eye something beginning with…”, and then saying a letter that kicks off the word for the object being so spied. For example, one could see a tree and say, “I spy with my little eye something beginning with T.” In the game, whether it is played competitively or no, participants train their minds to be interested in the things around us. Upon reflection, I think the counting game helps us learn to monitor our surroundings. I am not sure it helps us to learn skills necesary  to develop or evaluate our surroundings. So, I have concluded that I Spy could be a useful game to play today, not only with children, but with adults of all ages.

Sketch for a restaurant mural by Paul Mandracchia

Sketch for a restaurant mural by Paul Mandracchia

Here’s an example. “I spy with my little eye something that gets in the way of progress beginning with M.” Then the participants look around them and call out all of the things they notice starting with M that get in the way of progress. The spy cheers them on, responding encouragingly until someone hits on misogyny. Then the person who identified it correctly becomes the new spy. If time allows, the previous spy and the next one could talk a bit about examples of misogyny and its effects on progress.

While my adaptation of this game is presented here somewhat tongue in cheek, my point stands: many of us could put some good old elbow grease to our interest in others, our communities, and our environment. I am enjoying posts by Linda Neff, Tom Enhert and Josh Feyen. Clearly Tom and I are given to longer commentary; Linda and Josh, less so. But I like the commentary of these pals because it feels to me like their request is that we be interested. They seem to say, “Put your mind here, and here, and here.”

Don’t get me wrong, I am sometimes smitten by all things puppy, kitty, baby, and pratfall on social media. However, these diversions do not seem to feed my mind or outlook in useful ways. They do not keep me in the arena, call me to action, or prompt me to dare greatly.

Community is fun and celebratory. The development of community requires sufficient conscious interest to be successful.




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