You put your whole self in
You put your whole self out
You put your whole self in
and you shake it all about
You do the hokey-pokey
and you turn around
…that’s what it’s all about!
Yesterday I had the amazing good fortune of doing the Hokey-pokey with a group of consenting adults, inspired by Cedar Barstow as part of her Right Use of Power workshop. At the end I laughed both because of the joy and the elegant simplicity of the message. That one little rhyme said more to me than anything else about what it means to be a changemaker (stay with me here).
The journey of doing good often starts by putting part of yourself into something – testing your talents, playing with ideas, exploring the zone. Not long into it though, we find ourselves putting our whole selves into what we do. It is this funny dance of wanting to put our whole self into something, jumping out for survival, only to go back into the zone again.
It is like a dance that repeats in a circular motion, and we keep going back for more.
The origins of the hokey-pokey are contested. In the UK it is regarded a traditional song, now in the trust of the collective consciousness to shape and give new meaning. Writing this from Colorado, I am trepidatious as here the rhyme is owned by Sony. I wonder whether I can give new meaning to our cultural stories when the collective consciousness is owned by the corporate monolith. I will take a risk.
The hokey-pokey is said to have different meanings and origins. The one that I will expand on is that it derives from the words hocus-pocus, signifying some connection to magic. To me it is the magic of self-care. It is this important process of needing to recalibrate our bodies and re-energise to go back into the dance of life.
It would make a boring rhyme to just put your whole self in and just stay there. It would be equally less exciting if we were to substitute ‘hokey-pokey’ for the term ‘self-care’, even though that’s what it’s all about. Life and changemaking is a dance, and I reckon a pretty fun one at that.
So how does this play out in real life? And what could the rhyme teach us?
Firstly, it shows us not to take ourselves too seriously. The whole thing is a little ridiculous. In the American traditions, the hands flail to the side in the hokey-pokey section. In the Australia version, we place our hands under our chin to mimic a kind of Shirley-Temple-innocence.
This innocent playfulness is important in changemaking. We need to occasionally exit the dance to enter that spirit of play and fun. It is this that gives us the energy and new perspective to re-enter.
It shows us that we can find the energy to go back for more. Try it out: find a group of people and do the hokey-pokey. By the end you will want to go back for more.