This is an excerpt from my book “The Wisdom of Childhood.”
A while back I saw a bumper sticker with a slogan that said “What if the Hokey Pokey is what it’s all about.” At the time I thought how clever the person was who created that slogan. But the slogan kept coming back to me until I finally realized that maybe that person had discovered some viable steps in achieving spiritual awareness. Maybe hidden within this popular children’s game are answers to our happiness.
Let me take you through the steps and see if you agree. First, “You put your right foot in…” Who of us has not tested the water in this way? We are never sure at the start if this is the path we want to take, so we do some simple testing. Then the lyrics to the song take us through several other parts, until we come to the verse that says, “You put your right hand in…” Hands are for touching and manipulating. They can be gentle, or they can be cruel. They can be creative, or they can be destructive. It is very important for us to decide how we are going to use our hands.
Throughout the game, as we are instructed to put one of our extremities into the circle, we are instructed to put both our right and then our left. This strikes a balance. Balance is a good thing – masculine/feminine, aggressive/passive, work/play, community/solitude, yin/yang. Without balance we cannot possibly move forward.
After using up all our extremities including elbows, knees, shoulders, anything that can be put in, taken out and shaken, “You put hour head in…” Now we are really thinking about the possibilities. In essence, we have begun to focus on the task. But we are not done yet. “You put your whole self in…” Total commitment. We have tested it, we have touched it, we have thought about it, and now we commit to it.
But the lessons go on. In each step after putting in and taking out, “You shake it all about.” Why do manufacturers put instructions on some products to “Shake Well Before Using?” It is because some ingredients may have settled to the bottom, and need to be reintroduced to the mixture to make the product whole again. I think all of us could use a little shaking now and then to bring all our “ingredients” back together. Making us whole again.
Then comes the fun part. “You do the Hokey Pokey…” I am not sure what the exact rules are for doing the Hokey Pokey, but every time I have played or seen it played, the Hokey Pokey part has been a type of celebratory dance, complete with hands in the air, jumping up and down, and wiggling various parts of the body. Once the steps are completed, the commitment is made, and we have become whole, the celebration can begin.
“Then you turn yourself around. That’s what it’s all about!” Need I say more?