"There used to be this dance we did in junior high school. It was a 'mixer,' that's a euphemism for everybody could do it. Dweeby kids, dorky kids, nerdy kids and popular kids — like you and me. Everyone formed a big circle. There was someone in the center (usually an English teacher) who led it. She would say, 'You put your right hand in, you take your right hand out, you put your right hand in and you shake it all about.' For those of you from Mars, the dance was called the Hokey Pokey. It went on like that, each time featuring a different part of the human anatomy. There are a lot of parts. And young adolescents take great pleasure in shaking them, especially while they are surreptitiously watching what other young adolescents look like while they are doing the same thing. The dance ended with everyone complying with and singing the final instruction: 'You put your whole self in, you take your whole self out. You put your whole self in and you shake it all about. You do the Hokey Pokey, and you shake yourself about. And that's what it's all about.'

"So that's what it's all about! You put your whole self in, you take your whole self out; you put your whole self in and you shake it all about. The idea is that by doing whatever you're doing with all of you, you can then take all of you out. The trick is how to do both.

"It is possible to put your whole self into many things that are gratifying, beautiful and even important but which, in retrospect, we realize are not what it's all about. We confuse the great and transforming joy that usually accompanies life's milestones with being what it's all about. This is because they are so intense that we must put our whole self into them. But if we allow them to become the goal, then they are only diversions. Putting your whole self in and shaking it all about is important (and usually a lot of fun, too) but it is not enough. You also have to take your whole self out. You must also go beyond your self, transcend your self.

"Only then can we glimpse a bigger picture and our place in it. Such times put our lives in a larger system of meaning. In one way or another, they all involve separating from our parents, or remembering our place in the generations or realizing that we have been born and that we will die. Such moments are 'what it's all about.' They put our whole self in the circle. And as we watch dumbfounded while we dissolve, for a moment, there is only radiance."