To make the best of that time, we invented a simple game of observation. It usually works best outdoors, but it can be fun indoors too. The more varied and cluttered the view, the better. I don’t think we ever named it, but, after playing it once, all I had to do to declare the game underway was to say “I’ll bet you…can’t…find a…," and fill in the blank with the name of any object I knew we could all see. I’d always say the words very slowly, sort of dramatically, which became their cue to dial up their sharpest eyes.
In order to challenge them for more than a few seconds, I had to find more and more minute details.
Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, at first it was. But my kids proved so good at it that, in order to challenge them for more than a few seconds, I had to find more and more minute details or things that were visible only intermittently (like a waving flag that showed between two buildings only when billowed by the wind).
Since the object was for one sibling to find the object before the other, it became an exercise very much like speed reading—scanning a visual “lexicon” for that one key “word.”
...it takes a little time, which, after all...is the greatest gift we can give our loved ones…and ourselves.
Like anything so wonderfully simple, I’m sure this game wasn’t our exclusive invention. There could be any number of variations; any format will do. The key is to use one’s sight like a laser to cut through the flashy, loud, obnoxious foreground layer that so often clambers for our attention, and see some of the other layers of rich detail life lavishes on us.
The beauty of Bet You Can’t Find… is that the only equipment you need is your eyes, something those of us lucky enough to have good vision take with us wherever we go. And, of course, it takes a little time, which, after all—one of the main points of One Man's Wonder—is the greatest gift we can give our loved ones…and ourselves.