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  • Kelly Marks

Rock, Paper, Scissors

Paul and I are highly competitive with each other. When we play tennis it becomes a death match, and he usually (99% of the time) wins. Lowest blood pressure and cholesterol - I’m the champion. As you can see, we’re not exactly selective when it comes to competing.


One of our tried and true ways of deciding whose turn it is to do something-like take out the garbage-is to “buck up”. It’s a little like Rock, Paper, Scissors. You choose whether you are odd or even, then you count "1,2,3, Shoot", and you each stick out either one or two fingers. If both people stick out one finger each, it is a total of 2, so the person who is “even” gets the point. Three out of five wins.


And it’s absolutely infuriating; it’s like Paul can read my mind. He always knows exactly what I’m thinking even when I don't know. In all honesty when we decide to settle an issue this way, I should just go ahead and get up and go do the task because I’m going to lose. NEVER. I may end up doing it, but I will never make it easy on him. He’ll have to fight for the victory.


A couple of years ago I was speaking to a department of our city government. There were about 50 people in attendance, and I led them in a giant game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Everyone partnered with another person and played one round. The winner of the pair went on to find another winner and play them. But the interesting part is that the person who LOST went on to cheer for the opponent who had just beaten them.


What started out as mumblings and low murmurs of "1,2,3, shoot", started growing as they began cheering for each other. At the end of the exercise there was an older man and a young woman determinedly facing off against each other, but the more exciting thing was that they each had about 24 people cheering them on, screaming encouragement as if the outcome of this game were going to decide whether they got to keep their jobs or not.


When it was over everyone was laughing and clapping and patting the winner on the back. The moment when the realization that things were better when they cheered for each other rather than begrudging someone’s victory was priceless. You could read it on their faces.


Seneca once said, “It’s in keeping with Nature to show our friends affection and to celebrate their advancement, as if it were our very own. For if we don’t do this, virtue...will no longer endure in us.”


In most cases just because you win doesn’t mean I lose or vice versa. There’s enough to go around. Let’s be happy for each other and celebrate each other’s successes. And I will, but right now Paul and I have a competition going on and I need to beat him.




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