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Maslow's New Need

The leaves of the plant seemed to lap up the sunlight, just the way a hungry being would. I watered it regularly, yet it didn't seem like it was having an effect, its long, once luscious leaves were drying up. Of what I knew of plants, they needed sunlight, water and soil, something I believe I had provided.

The plant was gifted to me by a well wisher, saying, "you're now the father of this plant." I do not know what plant it is, but I figure it's a house plant, potted and meant to be domesticated. With that piece of sagacious insight, I must now draw upon the epiphanies that hit me the moment it was gifted to me.

Sunlight, water, and soil. That's what a plant needs. Food, water, and shelter. Apparently that's what an animal needs. What a human being needs, is some far more spread out, yet sometimes barely the same. Maslow tried to plant the apparent needs of man, the social animal into a pyramid, and that is generally seen as an excellent, well rounded outcome. What Maslow didn't consider, in my opinion, is the need to yearn for and want something not mentioned in his work - detachment.

It reminds me of a friend who loves plants, and how my ever wobbly relationship with people in general means I haven't exchanged a word with her since a month. At this point I don't even remember the gripe, if there ever was a serious one. Sometimes you just drift apart, like atoms in space.

Detachment, then, is a need which if I were to, I'd put in Maslow's pyramid somewhere - somewhere between esteem needs and self actualisation needs. I do not mean detachment as in the spiritual ways of the buddha. The Buddha was detached with every social and materialistic thing, which I believe is not only impractical in the 21st century, but also impossible.

The detachment I mean is a little complex, layered, and possibly flawed. I'd prefer to be detached from expectations, in a way that culls the ever longing waits and incessant dependency on hope. I'd prefer to be detached from outcomes, in such a way that I breathe free, stoic, in every aftermath that pops at me. I want to be detached, not from my people, but the fear that I may usurp the relationship I share with them. I hope to be detached from the repercussions of my love, so as to not bother with the give and take.

The detachment I want, is not ingenious, nor is it novel. Yet I want it to be seen in a different light, which sees things crudely. The detachment I want is often labelled unselfish and altruistic, and let me assure you, in my quest to achieve it, I've found that it is quite the opposite.

There is nothing altruistic in being unruffled and unbothered about the results of one's endeavours, in fact, it is a defence mechanism which seeps in the moment you embark upon a certain type of growth. Which type, you ask? I believe it is of the emotional kind, relating to the protection and validation of feelings, and the vindication of one's conscience. It is as selfish as it gets, and with said selfishness comes a certain amount of contempt in one's conscience for oneself, and thus, much like Buddha's detachment, this detachment is never truly achieved. It is to be sensitive to others to not be detached, and it is to be sensitive to oneself to be detached.

To be sensitive then, is a virtue as well as an impropriety. It is an everlasting conflict, something that requires balance. Detachment then is balanced on the scale by responsibility, and the weight of responsibility pushes up the need, or lack thereof, of detachment.

As I decide to try and revive this plant, I understand that it is now my responsibility, and maybe, just maybe, it's growth will spur on my growth in detachment, Maslow's new need.


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