Having decided that mere wellness is insufficient and that a state of flourishing is to be desired, the next step is to determine what will support me in that endeavour.
Leaving aside food, water and air (which for me comes under flourishing and will be dealt with in another post), the next thing that leaps to my mind is a requirement for safe and secure shelter – something that satisfies the other most basic (physiological) need in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs . Preferably, a happy household. To be technical, Maslow includes your sexual drive in this category but I will be dealing with that elsewhere.
For me, shelter has a psychological as well as a physical component – I want it to be a refuge, a tranquil oasis of calm amidst the pressures of life. Something like Superman’s “Fortress of Solitude” . While a shack thrown together on the beach from flotsam and jetsam has its appeal, I want a proper house with a door that shuts out unwanted guests and power supply sales people. And while a proper fortress needs a moat, I will make do with a garden. And no garden is complete without creatures: both wild and domestic.
My home must be a happy, cheerful, welcoming and above all calm place. I would prefer it to be small, unique, neat and clean, with just enough furniture to be comfortable but not so much that vacuuming underneath and around it is nightmarish. It will NOT be full of relics from bygone times, in fact, some people might call it sparse or perhaps even spartan (Quelle horreur!). In reality, we don’t need much to survive – that’s why shelter is at the BOTTOM of the hierarchy.
The garden will help with the oasis thing: summer shade and winter storm break. And because it represents flourishing, it must have an element of lushness about it; an abundance of flowers and produce. But it is also a buffer zone/no man’s land separating me from the world at large. We could even think of it as a mystical threshold between out there and in here. I wouldn’t actually want it to be as substantial as a forest of thorns, but substantial enough to draw off malign influences as I cross the boundary.
As I live in outer suburbia, my property won’t just be a refuge for me. It will also be a safe haven for native birds, lizards, possums and whatever else turns up. I once saw a kangaroo at the top of the hill, and another time an echidna strolling down the hill (I really didn’t think we were that outer). The notion of safe habitat for natives is possibly incompatible with domesticated dogs, but I feel needs to be factored into the plan – the metaphysics of looking after the environment as representative of looking after the self.
Will this household support flourishing inhabitants? Is this enough, or should it encompass other things?
Next time we’ll look at a third value, and in future posts work out how and why the household is so important.
If you think you might have missed an episode, here’s the story so far: