We play this little game all the time.
When my boys are sad.
When my boys are mad.
When my boys are glad (had to keep with the rhyming, lol).
For some reason this silly little game focuses their minds and captures their attention in a way that nothing else will.
It’s called, “I Spy With My Little Eye.”
If you have kids, you know my pain. If you don’t have kids… oh you just wait.
Normally the game is about colors.
Sometimes it’s about animals.
And every so often we go all crazy and mix the two together.
With my boys being 6 & 4, naturally the colors they pick are totally obvious, like the bright orange hoodie one is wearing when nothing else within close visual proximity is remotely close to that color.
“Hmmm…” I say. “What could it be?“ I say. “ Is it your *gasp* HOODIE?” I say.
They laugh and act ridiculously spastic as if I’m the funniest person in the world, and then we play again… and again… and again…. and again… until I’m like, *somebody shoot me now*
This one particular time, however, the game caught me totally off guard. My eldest blurted out, “Let’s try something different,” and then proceeded to speak in sing-song style:
“I… spy… with myyyy little eye… some.one.that.is.sad.”
When I turned around to look at him, he was pointing to a homeless man sitting next to the door of the entrance to the grocery store.
There, right in front of us, within close visual proximity, was this frail, elderly man, just sitting with his cup reached out and his head bent low.
That’s when the questions came flooding in.
Why is no one saying hi to him?
Why is no one hugging him?
What’s his name?
Why’s he sitting there all alone?
How old do you think he is?
Does he like chocolate milk?
Can he play I Spy with us?
With every question my son asked, I silently counted the number of people that walked past without even acknowledging him.
I stopped counting after 29 because my eyes were so watery I couldn’t see anymore.
How can it be possible for 30+ people to walk right past a human being and not even acknowledge him?
That’s when the truth of the situation hit me like a ton of bricks:
How many people do I walk past every single day without acknowledging?
We’re so caught up doing big and flashy things for this world that we fail to connect how acknowledging a fellow human being IS the greatest thing we could do.
We may not be able to save every Syrian refugee, we may not be able to end deep pangs of starvation for every family, we may not be able to rescue every young child sold into prostitution, but we can start somewhere – like the front entrance of a grocery store where an elderly man named Bill sits…. and the clerk at the grocery checkout…. and the gas attendant who pumps our gas…. and our next door neighbour…. and the mail man… and the mayor of our city… and, and, and.
Everyday there are countless opportunities to make a difference in this world if we open our eyes and to see what’s going on around us.
We just have to notice them.
Hug. It’s not weird. I do it all the time.
Ask how they’re doing.
Pay them a compliment.
Hold open the door.
Look them in the eyes.
Talk about something friendly.
Allow them to go first in line.
Pay for their coffee.
Or on this particular occasion, take the time to ask the elderly homeless man what his name is, if he likes chocolate milk and if he’d like to play a game of I Spy.
Because changing the world might mean noticing the stranger right beside you.