What a Man Can Be, He Must Be.
Think of a tree. A beautiful and majestic creature, the tree knows that its purpose in life is to grow tall and bear fruit. It strives to do just that with total commitment.
Humans are very different. Our growth is of the mind and soul. We are capable of much more than a tree, but there lies the paradox. A child can grow to be an NBA star, artist, architect, scientist, astronaut or some future career yet to be dreamed up. We are capable of so much that it makes it hard to know what we are destined to strive for, and in the confusion, we settle for less than what we are capable of becoming.
Maslow warns us that if we settle for less than what we can be, the result will be an unhappy life. In my personal experience, he is right. For years I told myself that being a surgeon was all I was capable of doing. I tried to convince myself that being a doctor was enough. But I was wrong. As my career built, rather than feeling satisfied with my professional success, I felt dissatisfied with my life. That was because I am capable of doing more than one thing.
For years, I had the nagging feeling something was missing. That something was an outlet for my creative energies. As a teen, I pursued photography. Photographing the natural world was an extension of my love for the outdoors and the beauty I found in nature. But when I went to medical school, I thought I should get "serious" and put away "frivolous" pursuits like playing with cameras and make art. So for the next two decades, my camera collected dust on a dark, closet shelf.
But I was never able to squelch my artistic tendencies. The margins of my printed agendas for serious hospital meetings ended up adorned with silly sketches of trees, mountains, sailboats, and caricatures of other people at the conference. And in spite of my best effort to deny it, I still had a creative side that needed a means of expression.
I found my outlet in an old hobby with a new twist. Digital cameras were entering the mainstream, and I became an early adopter. The first camera I purchased was a boxy, ungainly contraption with limited capabilities. Despite its limitations, the digital camera did have one advantage over my old film camera, the ability to "develop" photos on my computer. Now a whole new level of creativity was available to me.
Rediscovering photography allowed me to tap into something I was capable of being, something I needed to be. Photography has allowed me to live out Maslow's advice and became more of what I can be. Doing so has moved my dissatisfaction with life into a happy and more open experience of being alive. And that is what life is really about, coming alive.
Keywords: Abraham Maslow, Art, Artistic, Beauty, Cabin, Flower, Image, Inspiration, Landscape, Maslow, Nature, photo art, Photograph, Photography, Quotation
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