[Hooping.org will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day with our loved ones and we will return on Friday. Until then, Hooping.org Editor Philo Hagen celebrates the giving of thanks.]
by Philo Hagen
Every year when Autumn arrives I find myself in a little resistance. I want to stay outside in the bright warm sun and crank the tunes and keep right on hooping. The seasons, however, have other ideas and as the leaves fall and the very ground on which I live turns inward, I inevitably can’t help but find myself turning inward as well. Autumn is a time of harvest, a time of reflection on the year that is nearly past, and with the arrival of Thanksgiving it’s also a great time for gratitude. For those who aren’t familiar, gratitude can be as transformational in our lives as hooping itself, and like our hooping gratitude is not a noun, it is a verb.
When I was younger I often found myself defaulting to a place of being rather chronically malcontent. It was just a part of my psyche, the way I saw the world back then. So when a mentor in my life at the time asked me to make a list of all the things I was grateful for, I had a really hard time coming up with anything. “You’re breathing, aren’t you,” she would ask. I would nod and add breathing to the list. Then she’d cajole, “You’ve got ten fingers, don’t you?” I’d look at my hands and though I’d see them as being not anything special, I would nod again and pencil “having all of my fingers” on to the list. At the time basic body functions and having my extremities didn’t seem like much, but they most certainly are. Over time I was able to begin to understand and believe in the process and the power of gratitude. For if I could not breathe, I most likely could not hoop. I am so grateful to be breathing today! And if I did not have my fingers, I doubt I could hold and grasp and twirl this plastic circle within my hand. I’m so thankful for my fingers! In recognizing our gratitude we change our perspective, our view of the world, and in doing so we may even wind up changing the world around us. At a loss for things to be grateful for? Here are a few things I think most of us hoopers can have on our gratitude list.
1: Thank You For Our Bodies: I don’t know about you, but prior to hooping I didn’t pay that much attention to mine. Thanks to the power of hooping, which truly brings us out of our heads and back into our physical being, I’ve become very aware of my body and that is a pretty beautiful thing. As a result of hooping I’m very aware of the space that is around me and the space on this planet that I rightfully exist in. As a result of learning shoulder hooping I feel my shoulders, I can move and express myself using my shoulders. As a result of leg hooping I’ve reconnected with my legs and feet and when I drop something on the ground I can flick it into the air with my foot and catch it without even having to bend over. As a result of hoop dance I feel who I am and express myself, my being, my light. I inhabit all of my physical home today and when I experience the joy of living that comes much more frequently inside of a plastic circle spinning around me, I am truly grateful for my body – and that was true even before the hoop spun fifty pounds off of it.
2: Thank You For The Now: Hooping not only brings us back into our bodies, it brings us into the present moment. We have to be there to keep the hoop spinning. Before hooping – and even today if I’m not actively spending time within my hoop – I find myself going over things from the past that didn’t turn out right. I start reliving past regrets, rehashing old resentments and then fear steps in and I find myself future tripping on things that might or could happen all with a bad result. Thanks to hooping I am here in the present and yes, the present truly is a gift. When I live in the here and now I’m not only usually quite okay, but I’m living in the space and time where life actually happens. Even more, I get to be a part of it.
3: Thank You For The Music: Can you imagine living in a world without music? I most certainly can not and while I have found value in hooping in silence on occasion, I wouldn’t give up hooping to music for anything. Turning on a song and stepping into the hoop often takes me into the music itself, spinning me into a physical representation of the wonderful sounds I am hearing. Through being a part of the hooping community I’ve also discovered lots of amazing music I love that I may not have encountered otherwise. When I turn on my iPod and listen, so many songs take me to a specific place and time, to someone’s hooping video in mine, to an aural landscape of memory with a soundtrack for the joy of living.
4: Thank You For My Fellow Hoopers: Whether you’re hooping community surrounds you in real time, online or both, there is no doubt in my mind that hooping spins us into the most wonderful people and I am truly grateful to know my fellow hoopers. Not only do I now have friends all around the world (if you don’t yet, you can), but I’ve had the opportunity to travel to different places and be taken into the fold of life by hoopers just because I love a plastic circle. My local hoop communities over the years have often done the same for hoopers who have visited our cities and when I think of hoopers far and wide, it really is a special community. The odds are significantly greater when meeting a hooper than they are with any other group I’ve ever known that you’re going to be meeting someone awesome, someone who is living rather than existing, someone who likes to have fun, who celebrates play in their lives and the joy that comes with it. We are so lucky to be a part of such an incredible community.
Times can be hard for everyone. It’s not that I don’t have things I could be complaining about. I do, believe me, but the more appreciation I have for even the little things in life, the better I feel and the better the world looks and will be. Why squander the hours of the day that otherwise might have been worthwhile? Gratitude doesn’t have to be fancy either. It just has to bring into awareness of all of the great things about living and in life that surround you. Concentrating on these things can help you feel even more gratitude and when you’re feeling it I invite you to grab your hoop, turn on a song, and spin up some more. While hooping think of the people in your life you’re grateful for and when you’re done hooping send them a message letting them know they’re on your gratitude list. Gratitude, like hooping, is an action word, so why not spin some up today.
Philo Hagen is the Co-founder and Managing Editor of Hooping.org. He’s been spinning things up online and off since April 2003. Co-Founder of the Bay Area Hoopers and LA Hoopers hoop groups, Philo has performed internationally and has won Hoopie Awards for Male Hooper of the Year and Video of the Year. He lives in Los Angeles, California, USA.