Most families have the standard stories that get rolled out at birthdays and other occasions about any given family member: the attempt at flying, sticking things up noses and in ears… In my case the most frequently told story was the ‘Hokey Pokey’.
‘Hokey Pokey’ is a children’s song where you stand in a circle and sing, “You put your left foot in… You put your left foot out… You put your left foot in and you shake it all about…” You would include different appendages until it was your whole body that was put into the circle.
The story goes that I was a master of the ‘Hokey Pokey’. I would play with a level of joy that was unrivalled, throwing my whole body into each rendition. However, at some point in my life I stopped. My parents could not work out why my joy and abandon were replaced with caution.
Over the past two years of Universal Medicine retreats, I have discovered not only why I stopped, but also why I loved it so much in the first place.
You see God – that dude that many of us struggle to define and relate to – is actually the ultimate playful being. Connect to this fact and any movement is joyful.
As children this connection is simple, so of course I would “put my whole self in,” because it was what I was truly doing. I was playing with all of me, uncaring about what others thought, simply enjoying the feeling of my own body’s movements.
BUT… people watching this got jealous, and as a child, feeling that jealousy projected towards me I was left with a choice – maybe not a conscious choice, but a choice nonetheless. I decided it was better to tone down the joy than have people reacting to me.
Of course in reality, I wasn’t causing their reaction but it is often common logic to take the responsibility for someone else’s reaction. The result was that I stopped doing the ‘Hokey Pokey’ and in the years that followed I became very shy, especially doing anything that involved ‘standing out’ and being ‘on stage’.
At last year’s Universal Medicine Retreat, we looked at how we change ourselves through not wanting to feel the jealousy of others.
At this year’s retreat, we considered the ways in which we avoid feeling our deep connection to life and others. We explored the potential that each person we meet holds and what it is like to feel this potential. We also looked at what it might be like to move as an adult with the same abandon and joy, without fear of the reactions of others.
Check out these three photos: one from the days of childhood, one from this year’s retreat and one in the middle somewhere.
In essence, through my own choices, and the learning and inspiration from the retreats, I have learned to ‘Hokey Pokey’ once again (metaphorically speaking), to put my body into life and shake it all about, because that’s what it’s all about…
By Joel Levin (Western Australia)