We used to play a game around Christmas. Sprawled out on the living room floor without a smartphone in sight-- these being the final years kids actually played face to face. I seem to remember hot chocolate and graham crackers being present but that could be memory playing tricks.

“Go Fish” was for the briefest moment, your chance to even the score with the world. It was the opportunity to smash your opponent, win the game, be glorious, drink the remaining hot chocolate, and transform the sofa into a trampoline. A sort of les jeux sont faits enthusiastic confidence that the cards will be in synch with your intentions.

The anticipation made it delicious. Teasing fate, invoking magic, pleading for my dog’s blessing,or even genuflecting in sincere innocence to my own animal spirits could influence the cards. Frequently it worked!

Come to find out, “animal spirits” have been peeking their heads up for millenia. In fact a long line of thinkers and philosophers found it a useful business to pay attention to their inner animal when the chips were down and it was time to “Go Fish” or roll the dice.  

Pre-Socratic thinkers influenced Plato, Aristotle and a host of others , to blow smoke into the collective pneuma.

Even John Maynard Keynes helped justify his economic models with a “magical” term called “animal spirits” : as an essential ingredient explaining economic success. Why they only taught us “supply and demand” curves and ignored his recognition of animal spirits in economic theory is beyond me and meat for another blog.

Animal spirits according to Wikipedia is essentially a colourful name that Keynes gave to one of the essential ingredients of economic prosperity: confidence.

According to Keynes, animal spirits are a particular sort of confidence, "naive optimism".

The seasons turn and the games we play evolve, but I suspect our animal spirits remain loyal companions.

To “Go Fish” now  I’m amused to see my fly rod has replaced the cards and hot chocolate. Each roll cast, every strip or change of fly seems to invite the possibility for magic to occur.Every run and new pool beyond each bend in the river seems to remind my animal spirit what  philosophers and fish have long known.

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