Food. Security. Love. Respect. Wisdom.
Sounds like a plan, right? According to psychologist Abe Maslow, that’s us grouped by the things we need. He called this the hierarchy of needs. Maslow mummified human desires into a pyramid and concluded our journey starts at the bottom, with food – passes through three stages – and ends with all-round wise-assery. The name he gave to the very top was self-actualization — which, as we all know, is code name for weed.
Most of us spend our lives going down and up the first three levels of the pyramid. Some people skip levels and head straight to the fourth with little effort, and we love to watch them as they fall through their emptiness, face-first into the cheesecake that is level 1. So pretty much everyone who’s been on MTV.
Our needs have been caught up in linguistic polemics, either differentiating them from wants and desires — or analogizing them with evolution and survival. Which means we have rarely gone to the other side:
what does it mean to have?
We all know of the one way to remind ourselves about what we have. You may know it as gratefulness. Or as the exercise you do to feel better (only) when you feel like shit. Leave it to humanity to turn something of the divine into désirée.
Needs ensure we focus on what we don’t have.We remember the things we have only after we lose them. Because they’ve become needs again. Had’s. And a lot of this is painful because we can’t have them again. The quote from Fight Club misses the point. It’s not the things you own that end up owning you, but the things you don’t (own).
We don’t have to look beyond neediness to see how this unfolds. Relationships are complicated because the two people involved need very different things. Most often they are also at different levels of the pyramid. And while we are at it, it’s remarkably dickish how neediness has come to be associated with women when man’s central need for the longest time has been to silence her needs to further his own. It’s why patriarchy will remain the worst pandemic to hit humanity. Relationships are rarely fulfilling because we are trying to build something we want by destroying what exists — what took the other person all their life to build. We have forgotten the whole purpose of relating: To love what you have more than what you need. That is the bridge to the higher. Relationships haven’t evolved because they are less about getting to the higher and more about solidifying the lower. We keep the lust alive by letting it feed on love.
Would you like a dubsack of self-actualization with that?
The levels get increasingly difficult because when we forget what we have, we begin to need more of the same things. And with some of these things, you can never have enough. Like Pizza. Or Bitcoin. It’s a different kind of need, this. Where accumulating at the lower makes you believe you are getting close to the higher when, in fact, it’s burying you deeper in the lower. This is still all right when you realize there’s a need-cycle that’s far more insidious: the need to drop your desires just so you can get to the higher.
And we have devised something ingenious to make this possible. It’s called Giving #Sharingiscaring #Polygamy.
Remember the joy you feel when you give away stuff? It’s how you fill the shopping cart of your insides, one that is broken from all the crap you accumulated in the first place. To drop your desires so you can move higher up is like giving — not because you have too much — but because of what you can have, instead. You will never know the joy of giving without knowing the joy of having.
The point, a la Fight Club, is this: You start at the highest level. Your journey – the plan – is to find that self. The had. I hope you remember what it was like.