Watching an infant grow and develop, if one has the time and sees him/her every few days--as opposed to every day--can be interesting. Changes are readily discernible and often surprising.
I am not a scientist, psychologist, or any other kind of -ist, so my observations and conclusions do not follow the scientific method. I see what I see and--occasionally--even think about it.
Watching the child, I have concluded that a human being is designed to move, eat, sleep, and, perhaps, make noises--nothing more, nothing less. (I'll ignore the drooling bit.) An infant moves constantly, when awake, unless bound in a chair, car seat, or stroller or restrained by firm hands, preferably more than two. When hungry, he or she lets the world know and continues wailing until satisfied or at least until something is stuck in its mouth. When tired, he or she nods off and often in the most uncomfortable position. But, since infants are flexible, they bounce back into shape upon waking, no matter how contorted the position. Also, infants are not the least bit interested in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, because someone else takes care of the only levels which interest them.
Unfortunately, humans change with age. Much of the blame falls on society, with 21st century customs being especially culpable. But, this process started eons ago, perhaps even with the first humans.
With age, humans become sedentary, lazy even. I doubt that there were many couch potatoes until recently. When not sleeping or eating, adults tend to remain still.
Sleep is now regulated by custom, not merely by fatigue. Society tends to dictate sleep habits. Babies are urged to take naps; adults are ridiculed or even chastised. Something so natural is treated as being unnatural and unacceptable. I discovered that the basic urge to squirm, present in all infants and merely inhibited in adults, when I thrashed around upon awaking from narcosis. This behavior is not unlike an infant struggling against a diaper change.
Eating is the only infant urge that has not changed or been inhibited. People stuff their faces at all times...which explains the couch potato bit, high incidences of diabetes and heart disease, and lack of physical fitness (along with the movement bit above).
If adults could act like infants, perhaps more would be healthier, happier, and...no, few would be wiser.
Surprisingly, one discovers in an infant not necessarily needs, which reside at the peak of Maslow’s hierarchy, but traits. One does not think of an infant achieving self-actualization, yet each is spontaneous, lacks prejudice, accepts what it discovers, solves “problems” through discovery, and is curious. What happens to this refreshing, unbridled curiosity, the urge to discover everything and anything? How can human interest degrade to the level of being interested only in someone named Kardashian? Infants appear to be better human beings, perhaps because society has yet to gets its grubby hands on them...
We drove to France today for dinner. We have enjoyed meals at the same restaurant for decades and will continue to make the journey for as long as I am able. In years past, we drove there for lunch, ate and drank for four hours, and then drove home. Now, we stay overnight, which prevents drinking and driving.
On the way, I thought about the absurdity of driving three hours for a meal. Cavemen hunted and gathered...and then cooked a meal in a cave. Early farmers worked year around to feed themselves and their families. None every visited a restaurant. People today can choose from a variety of means to feed themselves, but driving so far for a meal must be at the end of some scale.
When I consider Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I know that I am perched on the pinnacle of a pointy triangle. At the bottom is man’s need for nourishment and shelter. At the top is something called self-actualization. That trait must include self-indulgence, because that is what I am doing. Life does not get much better than this.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.