On the Importance of Food, Shelter and Clothing

Most mornings and evenings I walk with my husband and our beloved black lab mix – Koji. In the morning with limited time, we walk down the shore and back and observe the day awaken. In the evenings we take a longer walk. Depending on the time of year we are catching the height of the evening’s festivities, the daily wind down, or the flat out night in our neighborhood (summer to winter span).

This morning it is late September. The air is cool and I wore my lightweight, dark blue rain coat I purchased in Maine a few years during an unexpected rain storm while in Perkins Cove.

I already had my morning coffee. I wasn’t yet hungry. I was not stressing about what may be in my work inbox. My life felt content and I was alive.

So very alive that my senses were more open. 

I felt the crisp autumn air around me. I held my arms out and inhaled deep breaths. A few times in the past week or so I was able to detect the smell of wood burning in a nearby fireplace. 

I heard the dog sniffing. I heard the squirrels shuffling across the grass and their tiny feet crunching the dried fallen leaves. I heard water from the shore in the distance. I heard a lot of bird signals and whistles . Mingled into it all were the sound of crickets and other unidentified woodland creatures. I closed my eyes to help my ears hear all. What a song!

As we approached the shore I noticed the early morning light dancing across the water. The sun hadn’t quite made its way above the horizon. But the light was creating a spectacular palette of color nonetheless. 

I didn’t have my phone and asked my husband for his. I snapped a short video of the rippling water and rising sun. It looked beautiful through the camera, but more beautiful in real life. Nothing captures the moment like living, breathing and appreciating the actual moment.

On the way back home I contemplated nature with teaming life around me. I’ve been wanting to go back to being vegan. I do not need to eat so much. Some people have no healthy or good food options. Others have no food at all. 

This got me thinking… How can you have an appreciation for life when you are hungry? When your body is so primed to keep itself alive it is not thinking about other lives. It is telling you to feed it. 

Sometimes I walk at lunch. Almost always after dinner. I thought about how I don’t always enjoy these walks so much. When I am not dressed right, when I am in rush and worried about getting back to my computer, or when I am thirsty or hungry and fantasizing about what to eat or drink when I get back home is when I enjoy these walks the least. 

I like every other human feel content when I have food, shelter and clothing. Next up Maslow’s pyramid is safety. 

For years I did not feel psychologically ‘safe’ with my husband. For reasons that belong to another blog his perception of how to approach the issues in our lives brought a proverbial fire alarm in me. When I worry about work or the kids or when I don’t feel psychologically safe, the ability to have my senses pick out subtle sounds and visual nuances are dulled. I don’t notice what the dog is doing if I am walking him, and then I’ll subsequently feel annoyed with him. I’m not present to those walks or my life when I don’t have the bottom of the pyramid covered.

As we continued home this morning I contemplated how I felt safe. Safe with my husband who at that very moment of my quite contemplation seemed to sense just that by reaching down to gently place my hand into his. I felt safe with him and in my neighborhood. 

How can anyone feel safe living in the ‘hood’ just a few miles down the road? How can you feel like the world is beautiful when outside your window is nothing more than buildings that block the sun? Where there might be a dangerous concrete jungle? Where the sound of birds and crickets is overtaken by honking horns, someone yelling, loud street signs and overall chaos?  If your walk to school or commute to work is fraught with fear and anxiety about being safe and what may greet you when you get there, how can you be comfortable and take a moment to appreciate life. 

How can anyone thrive without life’s basics? 

A flower cannot grow without a medium, sun and water.

A human cannot flourish without food, shelter, clothing and safety. 

They just can’t.

Anyone who says we live in the land of the free and that anyone can make it is naïve. 

I’d like to think that too, but people who don’t feel safe at home or anywhere in their surroundings during their day-to-day life are not free. They are a prisoner of their own heightened senses that are keeping them alive. When a human is hungry, they cannot think of anything else but how to eat. When we are cold or too hot, our body turns down our other senses off to divert energy into keeping us alive. No shelter or an uncomfortable sleeping arrangement leads to sleep deprivation. No one thrives when their body is too tired to function.

I personally don’t know what to do other than what I already try to do. But I want to do more.

If you feel you have food, shelter, clothing and psychological safety at the moment – perhaps just take a few seconds to stop and think about one thing you can do to lift the consciousness of others so they can be happier and more productive members of society too. 

This morning I appreciated life. I wanted to be better, do better, go vegan. I felt that way because my needs were met and I was able to look past myself and help this beautiful world around me to thrive. I wanted to protect nature. I wanted to bring up other humans to a place where they could see and appreciate what I was able to at the moment. 

Pay it forward. Forward this message. Activate and do something, anything… and give me some ideas back along the way… 

Only we can help each other. Our families, our neighbors, our communities. It starts with me. It starts with you.   

If just one person does one thing to help raise us all as humans from reading this blog; then I consider that a success.