I hated science and mathematics as a student. I was good at them but it was a battle. Those subjects just didn’t interest me. As a teacher, the ‘why do we have to do this, Miss’ question, is very familiar. I am sure most of you out there know what I mean either as that student who asked that dreaded question, or as someone who sat next to that student. Yet here I am years, and I do mean years later, finding inspiration in Maslov.
We do need that basis in general knowledge. It is a foundation in wait. That’s what knowledge gained does – remains waiting for that moment for something to activate it and turn it into what is necessary in that time and place. Most of my posts are written because a word, a phrase or a title triggers something in me. I have often been asked why I have chosen to work so hard at this stage of my life. The question is a valid one and it doesn’t just apply to me. There seems to be a growing trend these days to follow the dream at a later stage, a stage in life when we should be taking it easy. The thing is we are not throwing ourselves into difficult situations because we have to but because we want to.
I think need is a better word than want, a need to reach a potential that has been put aside for numerous reasons. Hence the Maslov light went off in my brain and words like self-actualisation spewed forth along with vague visions of triangle-shaped images. I remembered there were stages and that certain things disrupted the progression of these stages, often turning them upside down and inside out. The disruptive catalyst to a nice neat path to the top was, and continues to be life and the things it throws at us. Everyone is capable of reaching the pinnacle (self-fulfilment or self-actualisation) but life experiences re-arrange the stages of the climb to the top leading to a shaky and unsatisfying finish.
Bear in mind that I am no scientist or psychologist and I am well aware that the model has been altered, modified and added to over the years. I chose a simple diagram because it explains the stages in a way that is easy to understand and work with. There are things we need and building on them can lead us to the top but the truth is each layer is affected by the one underneath, and/or the one above, and sometimes the sequence is blasted into oblivion. Lose your job and paying for the basic necessities becomes a nightmare intruding on our desire to feel safe. We need the support of those around us, a sense of belonging in these circumstances and yet in anger and frustration we may reject that support. We go backwards.
I have a dish I love that my mother and father used to cook when I was a child. It consists of spaghetti, fried stale bread, garlic, basil, olive oil, chilli and parmesan cheese. Sounds good, doesn’t it? We had it because the cupboard, larder if you will, was empty. I understood that fact yet watching the process was so exciting that I never stopped to consider what the ingredients were, and why they were put together as a negative. The grating of the bread to make the crumbs was novel and fun. We had food on the table even if it wasn’t meat and veggies. The irony is that these days these same ingredients can be quite expensive (have you seen the price of parmesan cheese), and are considered trendy.
What I guess I am trying to say is that meeting those lower level needs may be vital but how those needs are met and the attitude displayed during the process matters more. We can’t stop the disruptions but we can keep making an effort. If we don’t then we stand no chance to achieve the self-esteem and confidence needed to rise higher. “Life experiences, including divorce and loss of a job, may cause an individual to fluctuate between levels of the hierarchy.” How do we learn a positive attitude? How do we keep up the effort when reality throws out wars, death, sickness, divorce, and unemployment? Let’s face it – the bad things list is endless.
We make the choice not to let those things destroy us. We choose the pinnacle and work towards it. So I guess the computer and I are now in a committed relationship and Maslov is dangling the self-actualised carrot. I have a terrible feeling this may be a long term thing so I guess I had better keep my appreciation of spaghetti and stale bread, Why not? It tastes pretty damn good. Anyone want the recipe?