The road to Self-Actualisation (with zombies)

Prior to my last post it’d been over two years since I blogged and that was about how I wouldn’t be taking part in NaNoWriMo in 2013 (what a mesmerising read it was, too!). Since then I’ve switched jobs a couple of times and bought a house. It’s now been over 3 years since I moved away from Plymouth and left a lot of gumpf behind me in the pursuit of happiness (or a job that facilitated change).

On the whole I believe I’m in a way better place now, but there was a nice moment of clarity the other day which acted to confirm this. I’ve been absorbing everything The Walking Dead recently having revisited the TV series after a sizable hiatus. My previous exposure to this fantastic fiction lay solely with the AMC series but I’d ditched it part-way through season three. For a little while just over three years ago it felt to me (for various reasons) like all the joy had gone out of life and I was functioning only very loosely. I couldn’t be bothered with TWD, perhaps because the subject matter was pretty dark and even for me I needed escapism from that sort of escapism. Make believe end-of-the-world scenarios suddenly didn’t seem to cut it.

Back to present, clarity came with the unofficial tie-in book ‘The Walking Dead Psychology’ – a superb insight into how the characters in the comics and television series function and how they would likely deal with the end of the world (I’m now up-to-date with the TV series -halfway through season 6- and have very much enjoyed the ride). The book provides character studies and delves into the trauma and PTSD they would likely experience. It also discusses ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’ (diagram below); how first of all you need food and water, then you can concentrate on security and you work your way up the triangle.

maslows hierarchy of needs

Having been exposed to a little bit of psychology second hand I already had some familiarity with this concept. I guess the explanation resonated. Poor old TWD characters will likely never achieve self-actualization, the author concludes, as they’re often too worried about where their next meals are coming from or the threat of being bitten or attacked by other survivors.

OK, so perhaps zombies weren’t the threat but maybe in the past the odds of real output were stacked against me. Perhaps a lot of it was my own doing, but how can you concentrate on creativity when you can’t get the basics right? I wanted a girlfriend, I went and got drunk a lot and landed up unhappy and skint. I needed to get out of Plymouth but I didn’t know how much, or where to go, or that it was the right thing to do. I needed responsibility, direction and a job I didn’t consistently loathe. I moved. I experienced. I found a nice girl and bought a nice house and now I can properly put some of my time into making stuff. Stuff I love, stuff hopefully others will also see merit in. It’s still a work in progress (there’s still a ways to go on the esteem front), but really? The sky’s the fucking limit.

Good luck to you on your road to self-actualisation in 2016 and I pray that if it features zombies, they are somehow contained. And if you have already achieved self-actualisation? Good work! I salute you.

You can check out The Walking Dead Psychology here – most certainly worth a look if you’re a fan of TWD and pop culture analysis and/or you have an interest in how people work.

More rambling to come soon and maybe a long-overdue blog design overhaul. I figured I’d start with the writing and sort the other stuff out later, so at least there’s some degree of output in the meantime!

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