For much of my life I have avoided the Hokey Pokey, which is a silly dance best suited for children and seriously inebriated adults. You know what I mean. It is for kindergarteners who are innocent and carefree; for them the Hokey Pokey is just natural. For those in mid-life to late life it seems contrived or alcohol induced. It is like they are on some vision quest or spiritual journey. You often see them dancing at weddings, on vacations in Kauai, and at high school reunions. Maybe they want to reconnect with their inner child? I am not sure.
Yet, the other day it struck me. What if they are right? What if there is really nothing else? What if the Hokey Pokey is what it is all about? This is a frightening prospect to me.
I admit that I have greeted this feeling of Hokey Pokey before and it has scared me. When I left a company after toiling many years as a senior executive, I remember cleaning out my desk and thinking is that all there is? I worked so hard and felt so self important. Yet, it was obvious that my job was done and I would be replaced and soon forgotten. And, I was.
When I moved after living many years in a house in suburban Orange County, I left quietly. A new family moved into the home that I had remodeled and carefully maintained; it was just over. Nearly two decades of community involvement and friendships now seems to have been transient.
The passing of friends and family is another sobering experience tinged with Hokey Pokey. As I have aged, I have had to say good-bye with frequency to older friends and to the generation before me. As I leave each memorial I am struck with the finality of life and how as a survivor I must carry their memories forward, even if it is just temporary. Who else will remember them? I am told that most people are forgotten in just two generations. Don’t believe me? What are the names of your great grandparents? I cannot name mine either.
Being the child of depression-era parents, I was taught to work hard, sacrifice, and save for later. Much of my life I did just that. I studied and worked hard. More often than not I outworked my colleagues, which was not very hard to do. Most were lazy, apathetic, or absent (sometimes all three).
As for me, I soldiered on and saved for later. But, now I ask myself will there be a later? If there is a later will it be any better than now? If later does not come, is this as good as it gets?
Maybe I should pause a moment and do the Hokey Pokey? It may be that this is what it is all about……
John Bradley Jackson
Author, Entrepreneur, Professor
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