What Does This Spell?

My preschooler has a little etch-a-sketch with a pen that lets her write letters. We were driving down the street, and she wanted to play this unusual game.

She wrote any letter she could think of, in any order, to see if she could create a random word. She can’t read yet, so she’d put the letters together, turn the little screen around and ask, “What does this spell?”

I called back: “Take a minute. Sound it out.”

She spelled things like “AEB” and “AECC” which sounded like no word she recognized. So she tried again until something sounded right. Soon, she announced the new game variation. She asked me what words could she make if only the letters were in the right order.

I tried my best to put together various permutations of whichever letters she wrote.

Finding meaning in the scrambled letters satisfied her so much. Why did she want to do this? What made it so satisfying?

Meaning making, for a preschooler, isn’t so far from what it means to find daily flair. It’s like my day produces a jumble of signs and symbols, and I try my best to rearrange them into something meaningful and something that feels important and right. But why do I do this? What good is it to philosophize about the meaning of small things?

I have to recognize the higher narrative that my life fits into. Searching for whispers of meaning in the rush of a day—in the scramble of conversations, events, and thoughts—helps me realize some divine presence in it all. There’s flair to be found in the fray. There’s something to learn, something to teach, somebody to love in it all. But I have to figure out a way, like my daughter, to recognize the word when it comes.

Writing my daily flair is a way to take a minute and sound it out.

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