Maslow’s Hierarchy

Is it just me or is Armageddon on the minds of many? Judging by the cinema, the news, the internet, and the radical right, I’d say it’s not just me. But I’ve taken the thought in the direction of least likely to succeed. What if, in the end of days, we really are in a new beginning, as the new-agers are wont to believe?

Given the amount of new creative work, I can see a time when all people are free to create and play without the constraint of economic factors. Think Abe Maslow and his “Hierarchy of Needs.” Most of us in these United States have what we need to survive. We work to live. We “buy time” to pursue our pleasures, to achieve our human imperative.

Artists work to live and live to work at their creative goals.

Unfortunately, most artists die before they ever get a significant financial return on their artwork, if any.

We are all creatures who seek the highest level of satisfaction until we reach the peak, and then we try again. That is part of being human. In the here and now, where the measure of success is in the monetary value of one’s work, everyone is competing to be heard above the fray, hoping to win the jackpot. But only a select few get to make a living as artists. Is financial success the only measure of our worth?

Perhaps we should take a lesson from the Tibetan sand painters. Like children at play building castles in the sand, the lamas form mandalas of colored sand as a meditation on impermanence. Through their activity they capture the essence of being, the pleasure and challenge that is life. After weeks of work the mandalas are destroyed and deposited into a body of water to be carried to the ocean. The ocean, like time, erases all illusions of immortality.

If we were to take financial reward out of the equation, if we could feel validated by our creations just because we have created... we may end up with a bunch of artists creating in pursuit of self-actualization. Could it be the apocalypse will actually hail the unexpected? If we could simply understand that validation need not come only in the form of money, maybe we would see that we are already heading towards a new Eden.

Posted on January 14, 2011 and filed under Un-Blog Me!.