“One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.” – Abraham Maslow
Abraham Maslow pioneered the field of humanistic psychology. He was also a famous University of Wisconsin-Madison Badger. Quick shout out: My youngest daughter graduates UW-Madison in 2021. On, Wisconsin! #JumpAround
Best known for his Hierarchy of Needs, Maslow was also a fascinating character…
- Oldest of seven children, as a child, Maslow was labeled “mentally unstable” by a psychologist. Perfect grounds for becoming a psychologist.
- Anti-Semitic gangs in Brooklyn chased and threw rocks at Maslow after school. He was known as a loner. Explains a lot about his quotes on overcoming fear.
- Poor grades and poor family steered Maslow to several colleges, finally landing an affordable, achievable degree in psychology at UW-Madison. Affordable is not a word I would use for UW-Madison these days.
- Maslow married his first cousin, Bertha. His parents did not approve. Love is love, right? No matter how cringeworthy?
- While jogging in Menlo Park, Maslow died of a heart attack at 62 years old. It’s always the fit ones. Reinforces why I stay home, eat butter by the stick, and nap frequently.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs posits that, once a person attains their physical and safety needs, they can continue to develop as a person to the ultimate level of achievement: self-actualization.
Let’s focus on the Safety level in the pyramid, as this is what most deeply concerns so many people in the midst of the current coronavirus pandemic.
The base of the pyramid is physiological need. While sheltering in place over the last weeks, many people have these basic physical needs met. We draw breath if we are Covid-free. We have shelter, food, and water. We can take a shit when needed, although maybe we are seeing more of a splatter spectrum depending on anxiety levels. Sleep occurs, albeit in nightmarish fits and starts.
The second tier of the pyramid is Safety, encompassing security and protection. It focuses on people having order and control over their lives and environment. Societal structures like police, fire departments, health systems, et al, must function reliably for individuals to feel safe. Family structures like insurance, property, health, and well-being of loved ones, et al, must exist to ensure stability.
According to Maslow, we cannot advance to higher levels of personal progress without reasonably satisfying the core needs of this level.
Holy shit. No wonder we are such a steaming pile of hot mess these days.
My job as writer, shaman, and healer is to help you develop coping strategies during this time of anxiety and uncertainty. Detailed below are some ideas I had to help you feel safe and return to your path of enlightenment and self-actualization. Namaste.
- Safety Division Reunion. My high school rock band: Safety Division. Talking about getting the band back together. Not to brag, but we were a big deal. Like, a really big deal. In our own minds. Jeff (vocal), Paul (guitar), Bill (keyboard), Chris (bass), and me (drums) laid down some of the best music the eighties had to offer. We covered Duran Duran, U2, John Waite, Journey, Springsteen, Ozzy, and so much more. Fans jammed into crowded high school gyms and run-down bars to witness our greatness. Girls swooned. Especially for me. Because we all know girls like to listen to the guitar, but they all want to feel a drummer’s rhythm. Yeah, baby. We brought so much love and joy to our community. Imagine what we could do for the world now! We would be like a giant hug across the globe, spreading collective feelings of community, all done from our individual houses, over the internet. Fuck. That sounds very technical. And hard. Yeah, maybe we skip this one. Stupid coronavirus ruins everything. I was especially psyched to announce our opening act: The Boneheads. (Sorry, gratuitous high school insider plug.)
- Global Safety Dance. Think about it. Take the best band in the history of Canadian one-hit wonders, Men Without Hats. Next, take their epic 1983 hit “The Safety Dance.” Not the radio version, but instead the club Extended Play version. Their low-budget MTV video was the first time I ever knew that little people terrified me (back then we could say “midget”, but I have evolved). Actually, I have Tyrion Lannister to thank for overcoming that fear. Props, Peter Dinklage. You helped me through some rough times. I digress; back to “The Safety Dance.” It has been such a beautiful sign of solidarity during this horrendous Covid plague to see the images on the news of people around the world clapping as one for our healthcare heroes. Imagine instead if we all cranked “The Safety Dance” at the same time. First, we can continue clapping, as there are some sick clap tracks in that song. Second, singing songs is so much more fun than clapping. Third, think of the choreography opportunities. You can envision social media blowing up with different countries developing their own steps and moves and grooves. Think of the unifying effect this would have to help us feel safer – part of a more predictable global community at 7pm local time each night. Amazing.
- Family Horcruxes. Okay, my fellow Harry Potter nerds, get stoked. I am finally incorporating a reference to the Potterverse in one of my articles. Know this: I have a future post in development of Harry Potter characters that never made the final cut. Rowling’s world-building extolled for all in search of a succulent reading treat. For those of you not dorky enough to know, a horcrux is “the word used for an object in which a person has concealed part of their soul… Well, you split your soul, you see, and hide part of it in an object outside the body. Then, even if one’s body is attacked or destroyed, one cannot die, for part of the soul remains earthbound and undamaged.” [on the nature of horcruxes, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”]. Very dark magic—a horcrux can only be created after committing murder, the ultimate act of evil. So, we may need to work through that bit. But, if we do, imagine how safe you and your family would feel? A family of five would only need to commit five murders to ensure their survival. And not just for some short mortal life. For eternity! Even if coronavirus found its way into your life with negative effects, you could not technically die! Think of the confidence that would create. Maslow Level 3? Here we come.
- Universal Safety Word. I think we can agree there are a lot of fake gods. My fake god is a dominatrix named Ingrid. She is truly a sadistic fucker. Ingrid gets off on putting humanity’s nipples in clamps with wars, plagues, famine, and endless other forms of devastation and depravity. You know, the light stuff. And Covid is her most recent masterpiece. But sadism binds her by universal rules. She must allow her masochist partners a safety word just in case shit gets too intense. What if we all agreed our universal safety word would be Armageddon? Just like the discussion in Useless Pets, where they gay couple used that as their safety word when gerbil felching ran amok. What if we all united and yelled Armageddon! three times in succession [because three is always a magical number in fairy tales]? Ingrid will realize we have had enough, and life will instantly turn back to normal. No more coronavirus, just some freaking sore nipples. Bet your fake gods can’t do that!
- Safetynet™. Remember Skynet in The Terminator? Like that. But different. Instead of an Artificial Superintelligence that becomes self-aware and nukes the earth to destroy humanity, Safetynet™ will execute its own Judgment Day… focused on Covidiots. Because Safetynet™ will be so wicked smart, it will know how to identify and eliminate these jackballs. C’mon. Don’t be naïve. The government has chipped us since the 1950s and tracks all our movements anyway. Since liberty died seventy years ago, let’s at least put our tax dollars to use. Safetynet™ can identify Covidiots in several ways. First, low IQ. Should be self-explanatory. Second, MAGA hat. Similar to low IQ, but more of a brainwashing thing. Third, self-centered douche. This is the biggest group: social Darwinist Governors, zealous rapacious preachers, beach-going Gen Z’ers. You get the gist. Safetynet™ could use the lasers in Space Force to precision target each Covidiot and zap them into oblivion. That feels unsatisfying to me. My preference would be to use Space Force’s tractor beams to pull each Covidiot into outer space to suffocate like the people they infected. Imagine your satisfaction when you see protesting Covidiots rising, body and soul, like the Rapture, into the sky! What fun. We could all do The Safety Dance each time it happens. The good news? Fake data analysis indicates that Safetynet™ needs to eliminate approximately 40% of the US population to truly make us safe. In truth, it is only 15%. The other 25% are a bunch of pussies who follow the political pollen wherever the culture wind blows. We should be able to carefully reintegrate these lemmings into our new healthy, safe world.
How much safer do you feel already?
Think about it. You have a new favorite band committed to making the eighties cool again. You have a dance that arguably is the greatest form of art ever created. You have made use of Harry Potter in a far less dorky way than making normal people guess what the fuck a Hufflepuff is. You have a blasé goddess turning her kinky predilections onto some other unfortunate cosmic creature’s nipples. You have the ultimate Safetynet™ ready and available to deliciously eliminate the threats to your peaceful existence.
And if any of these strategies work, we can all move along to Maslow’s third tier of attainment: Love and Belonging.
Sheltering in place has made us resent our families more than ever. We are on each other’s last nerve living in such close quarters. Our social connections have become almost completely digital at this point. Not sure I want to shake someone’s hand ever again, let alone accept a hug from their germy carcasses.
Let’s get safe first. We have a lot of work to do to fix the third level.
As said, I am a writer and a healer. For now, you’re welcome. Resume your journey.
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