Self-actualization is bullshit.
I wrote this down about a year-and-a-half ago, an entry in my agenda. I do that, scribble out a thought, each day. It’s part of my process, not of writing, but of being a human being.
Each day this thought, or quote, or collection of words, becomes a mantra. It is something to think about, up and above all the blessings and ballyhoo one may encounter as we walk on this planet. The words provide a focus. Some people are more apt to select a sonnet, or psalm, or lesson from Buddha or Paramahansa Yogananda (I’ve written down a few of those), but I’m more likely to ponder a Pete Townsend or John Hiatt lyric, or a slice of graffiti sprayed under a bridge, as I am a random retrospection.
I’ve been a quote collector for decades, but didn’t really start writing them down until January 2013, as I was partway through this period of evolution (a much sexier word than change). Some of the words have, and will, appear on this screen, as a daily breath . . . others remain personal reminders, only to my self. It’s a part of being here.
Over the past few years these valuable offerings and observations have included;
I know nothing. Things are going to get easier
I learn everything.
What happened to faith and patience?
Do no harm
If the moon whispers . . . listen but take no shit
Put everything you have
into everything you do.
If you roll like thunder
Infuse your muse You’ll crash like lightening
Each word, each day, provides a moment or two of reflection. I establish my truth, I go about my life, and then do it all again the next day. It is my route towards improvement, becoming more aware of my self and others, and being a better person.
The ‘self-actualization is bullshit’ entry strikes a chord, right now. Then, on that day, it was written in anger. Then, some days, anger was a common mood. Now it serves as a reminder of where I was, and an emotion that no longer serves me.
The course of change is focused mostly, or at first, on eliminating nasty habits. As your personal revolution continues, you find reason to drop the insidious envy, and fear, and doubt, and traits no longer useful. Yes, there are periods of grief that offer repose, and it comes in moments when you realize your addictions and afflictions are not of substance, but of ego and attitude.
As you move closer toward your intended purpose, you chose not to let the weight of the past knock you down, and foster a gentler, simpler approach. It’s not that life is simple, but it can be broken down into more manageable portions.
Yes, the principles of self-actualization do come into play, and not all of it is bunkum. On any given day, you will find yourself facing the bitterest of truths and the need to do so.
Abraham Maslow, in his hierarchy of needs, sets self-actualization at the top of the pyramid. The basics of food, shelter, and security are all required before you can self-actualize, as is the sense of belongingness and the need to be good.
As you struggle to get a grasp on the real world, it’s easy to get stuck on the need to be good.
Good. Now, there’s one hell of a confusing word; totally subjective, and there are so many interpretations. You can be good at something, and strive to be better, but how good is good? Are you ever good enough? The good I speak of is not demonstrated proficiency in your craft, profession, or pursuit, but rather the goodness that wends its way through your ribcage and runs along your sole to the core of your existence.
This good is more of feeling, and of truth. For with the act or path of goodness, you must be able to give yourself freely to a community, to love, to care, to show empathy and forgiveness. Goodness — and it cannot be demonstrated in some brash or vainglorious manner — is to accept your self in the most human way and, more so, accept and believe in others.
When you can find comfort there, in yourself and with others, you know you are good. It is the realization of this goodness that will allow you (physically, spiritually and emotionally) to achieve your goals and to arrive at this place.
I suppose I am still looking for the place, but I seem to be finding contentment in where I am. It hasn’t been an easy journey (is anything that is worth pursuing?) and it has taken hundreds of yoga classes, a temple’s worth of candles, 238 (or 241) pencils, and a carton of scribblers, journals and wrinkled scraps of paper.
It has taken great thought, and it takes daily reminders of where you want to be, and what you are. You need to be honest, you need get past the bullshit and do what has to be done, but most of all you need to be there to get there.
Tell the truth
© 2015 j.g. lewis