The Counting Game

Seagulls on a fence

“THE COUNTING GAME” is one of the great travel games of all time. Everybody travels. Many, many millions of people have traveled over land, sea, and air with multiple children under the age of five over the course of human history. 

My parents used it with my brothers and me, and I used it with my own children. 

“*You* count every one of the blue Volkswagen Beetles you see, and *You* count all of the red ones.” 

Or you could make it just all of the red cars or all of the yellows. Or maybe it’s road signs or homes with weather veins or solar panels or seagulls on a fence. Whatever. You make up the rules that apply to you and yours. 

The point is, the game gives the children something to concentrate on, something to look out for, something to do.

When you’re playing “The Counting Game,” when you’re really into it, you don’t have the time to wonder “What do I want to do with my life?” Because you’re doing it. You are caught up in doing your life. Right then, in that moment. 

When you’re lost in the concentration of your imagination and are searching with all your might for as many different state’s license plates as you can find while on your trip to upstate New York, you will discover you have zoned out, gone away, become lost in the concentration. 

These moments of our consciousness intrigue and fascinate me. 

Is anybody listening?

As a person who struggles with the desire to always get to the next thing and the next thing after that, I often feel as if I miss more moments than I capture. 

I look forward to what’s to come—good or bad—as if I could possibly know what that would be. 

I have that special kind of hubris that continually insists I have the ability to know what’s going to happen in the end before any and every situation that occurs. As if I could actually know such information, and that knowing is somehow going to shield me from pain and unhappiness. 

Scott Friedman, my best friend since high school, introduced me to “The Perfect Game” one time. There are three very simple parts to it. These are the rules: 

“Whatever is suggested, do. Whatever is offered, take. Whatever happens, declare it perfect.”

I’ve tried to play The Perfect Game a few times. I think it showed me more about my inability to trust than anything else. It showed me my lack of faith, I guess; if you look as I do at faith as being a radical trusting in that which is more than yourself. 

Sometimes, it seems like what life comes down to is simply the ability to realize you’re living. I think this happens whenever we set our minds to something—whether monumental or banal (according to us)—and lose ourselves in our creativity, in the creative process. 

When we have what we think is “nothing” on our minds (which is impossible, by the way), we seem to do one of two things:

We either continually chase after the feeling we get when we are “in the zone,” when we “go away,” when we realize we are all one and the same. That feeling.

We chase that feeling, but we want it without the *doing* part. 

We put expectations on what we think an experience should be like, what it should look like, what other people need to be doing during it, what we will look like doing whatever it is we’re *supposed* to be doing. 

In situations such as these, we may occasionally catch a glimpse of what we seek, but because we are so consumed by the chase itself (only wanting the outcome for ourselves) we might never truly see that we have already found what we are looking for.  


We decide to realize that the place we are seeking is always right wherever we are. 

You don’t go somewhere else when you sit down to write and are shocked to realize an hour and a half has gone by in the last ten seconds, and you have pages on the screen before you. Pages of words you put together. 

You didn’t go anywhere, and nothing came to you, and time didn’t speed up or slow down. That is you and your imagination at work, playing the role of creator. You are creating, and your concentration is total. 

And it is always happening. Constantly. Consistently. You are creating every moment of every day. 

I believe it is in moments like these when I become aware that God and I are existing as one and the same, and the exact same thing is true for you. 

These moments happen to us all the time throughout our day. We just don’t always see them.

More seagulls on a fence

The Celtic Christians called moments like these, “Thin Places.” 

I love that way of thinking about it. That the veil I, myself, have created between God and me becomes transparently thin, and God’s will is known to me in a moment, for that moment, and nothing more. 

Every moment in which you are creating is a moment in which you and God are one, and every moment you live is a moment in which you are creative and are in the act of creating. 

So, if every moment you are alive is a moment you are creating, then every moment you live is a moment in which you and God are one. 

What does that mean? 

It means a lot of things, but to me, ultimately, it means I am never alone and there is nothing I could ever do or say that cannot be made into something brilliant and wonderful by the one who is co-creating with me, making all things new. 

Look, there’s no reason to get all theological about it. You didn’t read all this way to be told what to do, and I’m not going to do that.

All I want to do is communicate to you that you have a special mission in this life, and that mission is to live your life. 

You are a brilliant, one-of-a-kind, super creator! And what you do matters more than anything you could imagine. 

No one else is you. Not now, not ever. 

You are vital and are loved beyond your understanding. You just are. If you can’t believe it right now, that’s okay. I’ll believe it for you. 

I believe in you! 

Peace to you.

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