“Freedom is not having to do what you want to do. Spiritual and true freedom is wanting to do what you have to do.” This tidbit of information greeted me in my e-mail this morning from the Fr. Richard Rohr, a gentle man whose words are currently the chief path to spiritual inspiration for this oft-dimwitted scribe. Therein lays the rub. I have encountered a situation that is giving me pause on a philosophical as well as personal level where it comes to what I want and what I have to do. I am about to embark on a course of instruction the topic of which is the theory of self-actualization as hypothesized by Abraham Maslow. This is most certainly a Brobdingnagian feat of staggering hypocrisy.
I am currently teaching a section of Psychology to the young men in my educational care and have happened upon the time in the course when the topic of personal needs must be addressed. Well, anyone who has been to any kind of post secondary school will tell you that the guru, no, sage of defining the needs of human beings is Abraham Maslow. Maslow was one of the driving forces in the development of “humanistic psychology” which Wikipedia defines as a holistic approach to human existence through investigations of meaning, values, freedom, tragedy, personal responsibility, human potential, spirituality, and…wait for it… self-actualization.
I take umbrage with my soon-to-be act of duplicitous insincerity. Two-facedness does not sit easy on my brow. I like not the direction my professional life has taken here of late, and I must report this to the world. In simple terms, I must tell on myself.
In earlier times, I had the great privilege to receive an education from two state operated institutions of higher learning. I reentered the academic universe on the back end of a bridge that I had found it necessary to call my residence. While under that bridge I came to a realization that my career opportunities were limited (hence the bridge) and that it would be impractical, at best, to pursue gainful employment in any city that had been more than happy to let me sleep under a bridge rather than allow me an extension for my unemployment benefits which I had exhausted. Life, at that point in my life, was everyone else’s fault.
My ruminations included an inventory of my marketable skills. These skills amounted to one profession where I had any reasonable amount of expertise. Truck Driving had afforded me a living for a major of my adult life and it was also the main cause (in my most ill educated mind) the cause of my dire straits. I experienced an epiphany under that bridge. I asked the God that I did not understand at that time, to guide me to some revelation on the meaning of life. (It is amazing what cheap beer and wine will do to a mind) The answer I received came in the form of a desire to learn a new trade. This meant dragging my rather rotund posterior end out from under that viaduct and go back to school. Therein lays the beginning of this rant.
With the aid of my Dear Sainted Mother who gave me shelter and food (of course – see my posts on “It’s Mommy’s Fault), and a few pairs of clean clothes I found a scholarship to return to school. It was a Job Training Partnership Act) JTPA scholarship for which I must thank (much to my radical left wing regret) Ronald Reagan’s Republican Government. Once there I figured that, given the poor quality of my academic skills in high school, I would not last very long. The person who signed the papers authorizing my attendance told me that I had a guaranteed three months worth of room and board. This, to a recently homeless person, sounded like Heaven. I made it past the three months and many more in the pursuit of college degrees
Not wishing to experience any more night under the stars, I enrolled in a course of study that the school counselor reported would pay me more than any other program, at the time, for a newly graduated student. Greed aside, I pitched in, studied hard, and came upon the Sage of Humanistic Psychology in my first college class. I also found him in my second class, and seventy-three of the one hundred and thirteen junior college and university classes that I have attended since. Somewhere around the fortieth of fiftieth class, I turned it off and refused to listen any more. I vowed that if I was ever to leave school (count the classes and divide by three…I was a freaking professional student!) Abraham Maslow would never again infringe on my life…forever. There were much more colorful words used at the time, and they too, as ‘Ol Abraham has, stayed out of my vocabulary (well, at least in the order I used them that time) until about six weeks ago when I realized that his teachings were required fair for a high school psychology class.
I thought I might escape it when I woke up this morning and had to take a sick day due to one of my many infirmities. I was talking to my substitute on the phone and it became evident that she was not game for taking my place if she had to talk about Mr. Maslow. We agreed that a film and a written essay would suffice. I will have to commit this egregious act of hypocrisy when I return to work. Something tells me that Karma is trying to invade my life. Or rather, perform a particularly uncomfortable sexual act on me.
I will take my task seriously when I return, and do so with diligence. I will remember the lesson I learned which, realistically, I should have learned many years ago. Never let your mouth overload any part of your body, which is not designed for the load. Peace.