The older I get the more I tend to find pearls of wisdom hidden in the prose of children’s literature and music. Perhaps this is because the stories and characters we are introduced to as children often serve as primary lessons for how we learn to interact with the world around us. I find it amusing that had I simply paid more attention to the morals and lessons abound while engaged in child’s play, I might have entered adulthood all the wiser.
Take, for example, this whimsical tune I learned in elementary school:
“You put your right foot in,
You put your right foot out,
You put your right foot in,
And you shake it all about.
You do the Hokey Pokey,
And you turn it all around,
That’s what it’s all about…”
If you know anything about Rosie and her posies, have sat in an imaginary boat pretending to row gently down a stream, or have ever wondered about twinkling stars you likely know this little song and dance. Yes, it’s the Hokey-Pokey and according to the lyrics-that’s what it’s all about!
Lately, I have found myself randomly humming this tune as I plug along my day which has made me wonder if the Hokey-Pokey is on to something. According to this song, all we have to do is put in one foot at a time, do a little spin and announce to the world that we have discovered what it’s all about! I don’t know about you, but that sounds very similar to the daily tasks I perform each day. I am constantly putting my right foot into one task while putting my left foot into another task and maybe even a hand into yet another task. I imagine there are many others engaged in the same daily dance routine. So, if that really is what it’s all about, why does it feels like something is missing for so many of us?
I believe the lack of fulfillment stems from the lack of wholeheartedness with which we are approaching daily commitments. We are living in a task-driven society where multi-tasking is not only rewarded but expected. Working late hours is seen as heroic and completing projects has become the delusive benchmark of personal worth. Earn more, do more, be more seems to be the motto of our time. And while this may seemingly get us ahead for the short term, this style of living leaves us void and hollow because rather than being present and tackling our commitments with intention, we are spreading ourselves thin by quickly completing each task in a fury.
Unfortunately the same is true in relationships. Many of us are engaged in relationships in which one or both partners only have one foot in at a time and the rest of the time is spent turning all about, or rather, going through the motions. Meaningful embraces have been replaced by quick hellos and goodbyes while racing in and out of doors. And soulful conversations have been superseded by texts and emoticons. Rarely is time spent truly getting to know the other person by putting the whole self into the relationship. While initially it can be beneficial to focus on putting one piece in at a time, in the long run leaving parts of oneself out will make for an unbalanced and unfulfilled relationship. In order to have a fulfilling and lasting relationship both partners have to be all in at all times.
We have all had times when we have done the Hokey-Pokey dance with life. Let’s face it, balancing the responsibilities of family, work, and paying the bills makes placing your whole self in all of the time nearly impossible. But, I believe the song is attempting to cultivate the purpose of intention and the power of being present. In order to get the dance right, we have to be fully present and fully engaged in the task at hand. Even if we can have only our left foot in, the move can still be intentional and the dancer can choose to be present in the motion, making for a fulfilling and fun activity. From there, the song invites us to put the other foot in and so forth, until finally the whole self is invited in.
At the onset daily tasks may seem meaningless and trivial and relationships coincidental. However, every labor is a gift for growth and each relationship an opportunity to put the whole self in. Living with intention and being present in every moment will guide us towards finding our authentic self and purpose, which is truly what it’s all about.
If this pathlight resonates with you, I invite you to further ignite your spark by engaging in one or more of the following activities:
One thing I can do to be more present in my daily activities is….
I am present and consciously aware in all moments.
Thank you for daily opportunities to live with intention and purpose. I seek your face in all things, people, and places as I strive to be present in each moment.
Quote Inspired Reflections:
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest, and the choice to let our true selves be seen.” -Brene Brown
“Out intention creates our reality.” -Wayne Dryer
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.” -Eckhart Tolle