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The important things.
Anthony J. D’Angelo has been quoted as saying that:
The most important things in life aren’t things.
That might be true so long as you have things.
Ask someone who has a warm and dry home with sufficient food and a steady income and they may well say that experiences and friends are more important to them than things.
Ask someone who is renting a cold damp room and struggles to find enough money to pay the bills or even put food on the table and suddenly the smallest of things become very important.
Having the latest iPhone, or the latest fashion item is something out of reach of many people. For those who can afford them, they are perhaps inconsequential, but for a lot of people, these things are either perceived as important or considered beyond reach.
Things like family, children, friends and health are all important to most people no matter their circumstances, but the importance of the shiny things that we covet might be inversely proportional to our ability to pay for them.
In the greater scheme of life, the important things are not possessions, but rather things like health, relationships (both family and friends) and peace of mind. How many things are held as important by many people, which when looking at the bigger picture really don’t matter?
Spending time at a campsite with a group of naturists illustrated clearly to me that it was the simple things that could bring the greatest joy.
But thinking about it, I was able to spend that time with friends thanks largely to the fact that I have the basics. I do not consider myself particularly wealthy, but I have a roof over my head, a good job, food on the table and I live a comfortable life.
Having the opportunity to sleep under canvas in a natural environment with no pressing urgency to be anywhere or do anything was a welcome break from the normal pressure of working life. Of course, I am lucky enough to be able to afford a nice tent, comfortable camp bedding and all the necessary camping gear to make the stay pleasant. If I were homeless and unemployed, living constantly in a tent would soon lose its allure, especially in the colder rainy weather.
As someone whose offspring have grown and left home, I am no longer struggling to clothe and feed hungry children, pay for visits to the doctor, or manage the school fees that have become a regular feature of New Zealand’s free education system. Education in New Zealand used to be free for all, and accessible to everyone. It is still called a free education system, but that is aspirational rather than absolute. With cuts to government funding, increased costs and the need to deliver an increasingly diverse curriculum with fewer resources, parental charges have crept in over the years and are now a regular part of a child’s education here.
Don’t get me wrong, I have experienced hardships. My ex-wife and I had four children, and at times looking after them was a significant financial burden. There were times when one or both of us were without work when the interest rate on our mortgage was over 20% and we had to choose between food and electricity. There were times when we had to refuse our kids the opportunities to do extracurricular activities with their schoolmates due to the cost. We struggled but we managed, and it would be fair to say that as parents we are proud of the men we have raised.
But I have done my time, and now I can relax in relative comfort and enjoy the things that make me truly happy. Spending time naked is one of those things.
For many people who don’t have a safe, warm, dry place to live, the security of work or a stable income sufficient to meet their daily needs, or affordable electricity and clean water, one could argue that the most important things in life are indeed things. These are the things that many of us take for granted.
I recall more than a few haircuts ago, I was doing a couple of university papers on business studies and motivation, when I came across the work of the American psychologist Abraham Maslow. Maslow posited that humans are driven to satisfy different needs at different levels. At the most basic level are the physiological needs such as clean air, food, water, shelter and warmth followed by the level of safety needs such as personal security, employment and health. The next level covers the need for love and belonging, where family friendships and a sense of connection are important, and then there is the esteem level where we look for respect, recognition and status. The final and top level in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is the self-actualisation level, or the desire to be the most one can be.
While the journey through these levels is not linear and there is no requirement to 100% satisfy the lower levels before working on higher levels, it is often difficult to think about those higher things if you haven’t got the lower levels sorted to a degree.
While the lower levels are broadly the same for everyone, the top level will be different for everyone. Not everyone will have the same sense of fulfilment from the same things.
Maslow also considered that reaching the top level of self-actualisation was rare and not everyone got there.
It occurred to me while writing this blog that perhaps one of the reasons people often come to naturism later in life, is that embracing a naturist lifestyle may be how some people manifest their own self-actualisation. Younger people are too busy trying to navigate the levels needed for survival whereas older people mostly have that stuff sorted.
It’s only an idea, and I could be wrong, but it might help explain why not everyone is ready to embrace something that many naturists think everyone would benefit from. Most people are too busy working on those foundation levels.
The social taboo on nudity is a matter of custom rather than of any ethical or moral importance.
– Abraham Maslow
Thank you for reading and have a comfortable day.