Third in a three part series
•ESTEEM – Service League volunteerism
•FULFILLMENT – SMS reunion – relationships
•LOVE – Easter Revival
•SAfETY – Humane Society – pets offer security
•FOOD – Food Pantry
Story and photos by Nathan Wilson | Reporter
Self-actualization is the highest form of fulfillment in Maslow’s view. An earlier psychologist, Kurt Goldstein, had introduced the term to describe when an organism achieves its potential, but Maslow refined the idea to describe the conditions in which people seek personal growth. “What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization,” he wrote. He described self-actualization as taking a different form for each person. “In one individual it may take the form of the desire to be an ideal mother, in another it may be expressed athletically, and in still another it may be expressed in painting pictures or in inventions,” he said.
Maslow indicated self-actualization wasn’t typically fully attainable, and explained that many people only partially fulfilled their needs at any given time. “The average citizen is satisfied perhaps 85 per cent in his physiological needs, 70 per cent in his safety needs, 50 per cent in his love needs, 40 per cent in his self-esteem needs, and 10 per cent in his self-actualization needs,” he wrote. He imagined traits self-actualized people might share. “It is just the ones who have loved and been well loved, and who have had many deep friendships,” he wrote.
Since a person’s whole life is devoted to fulfilling their needs, one place to look for self-actualized people is among communities who have secured their needs over their lifetimes.
Members of the St. Mary’s graduating classes of 1970 and 1971 met for their 50 year reunion April 8 to rejoice in their shared sense of community. Members of the two classes greeted each other throughout the night with stories, recollections, laughter and embraces.
St. Mary’s alum Nancy Thomas described the experience. “It was so nice. A lot of them I haven’t seen since high school,” she said. She estimates that about half her graduating class attended the reunion, which she believes is remarkable. “If you can get half the people you invite to come anywhere you’re doing pretty good.”
Citing a familiar reason, Thomas explained why so many of her classmates drifted away. “Once we graduated from college, unfortunately the town did not have many jobs to keep the young people here, so most people left,” she said. “About half stayed and about half went off and found fame and fortune.” Despite the diaspora, she described staying connected with a core group of her classmates and said others did too. “Some have remained in their little groups throughout the years, and that’s good. They’ve kept in contact, and they meet every now and then.”
Thomas also moved for her career; she settled in Florida, but returned in 1998 for family reasons. She described what it was like to return. “A lot of people didn’t leave so it was real easy to come back,” she said.
She described feeling a sense of satisfaction about moving back to Natchitoches. “I probably would have come back to retire anyway, because it is a great little town,” she says. She has also been back long enough to notice a trend. “A lot of people are coming back to retire, and so that’s good. It’s like we were young here and now we’re old here,” she remarked. “I do like being back in the community.”