Over the past couple of years, it has become crystal clear to me that I cannot live the high-powered life that some of my colleagues expect to have. On top of a full-time job, I spend a few hours a week on maintaining the home that my fiance and I share - up to roughly 8 hours a week since we don't have human children to clean up around. I spend a minimum of an hour a day on my relationship with my fiance - I fear the day when we no longer have time just to sit and talk. Some time goes to maintaining relationships with family, and some with friends. And finally, some time each week goes into creating something beautiful, whether it is photos (preferred) or art (when the weather is too bad for the camera). I simply don't have time to work a 60-hour week for anyone. I have enough trouble with a 40-hour week!
What does all of this have to do with sparkles or bubbles? If you search online for "work-life balance," the trail of results leads eventually to Cultural Creatives, along other places.
I picked up the Cultural Creatives book and read it. Parts of it call to me, like whales sounding underwater. It resonates, makes me shiver. "Yes," I thought, "this describes me."
You are likely to be a Cultural Creative if you...
1. ...love Nature and are deeply concerned about its destruction
2. ...are strongly aware of the problems of the whole planet (global warming, destruction of rainforests, overpopulation, lack of ecological sustainability, exploitation of people in poorer countries) and want to see more action on them, such as limiting economic growth
3. ...would pay more taxes or pay more for consumer goods if you could know the money would go to clean up the environment and to stop global warming
4. ...place a great deal of importance on developing and maintaining your relationships
5. ...place a lot of value on helping other people and bringing out their unique gifts
6. ...do volunteering for one or more good causes
7. ...care intensely about both psychological and spiritual development
8. ...see spirituality or religion as important in your life, but are concerned about the role of the Religious Right in politics
9. ...want more equality for women at work, and more women leaders in business and politics
10. ...are concerned about violence and abuse of women and children around the world
11. ...want our politics and government spending to put more emphasis on children's education and well-being, on rebuilding our neighborhoods and communities, and on creating an ecologically sustainable future
12. ...are unhappy with both the Left and the Right in politics, and want a to find a new way that is not in the mushy middle
13. ...tend to be somewhat optimistic about our future, and distrust the cynical and pessimistic view that is given by the media
14. ...want to be involved in creating a new and better way of life in our country
15. ...are concerned about what the big corporations are doing in the name of making more profits: downsizing, creating environmental problems, and exploiting poorer countries
16. ...have your finances and spending under control, and are not concerned about overspending
17. ...dislike all the emphasis in modern culture on success and "making it," on getting and spending, on wealth and luxury goods
18. ...like people and places that are exotic and foreign, and like experiencing and learning about other ways of life.
I'm having a hard time, though, with part of the buy in. I'm still skeptical. In my understanding of history and society, being but a casual observor of both, trends in thought, beliefs, and fashion go in circles. The big "counter culture" in my college days was Goth. To slink around, wearing black and maroon, and acting depressed as if the world was on the verge of annihilation any second and there was nothing we could do to stop it, was the ultimate in cool for kids who wanted to be different. The differences between mid-90s Goths and earlier nihilistic trends is pretty minimal in substance. So I'm suspicious any time someone claims that we have a "new" trend, because I suspect that it is probably just an old trend in new clothes.
The book's authors, Paul Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson, discuss the roots of what they see as a new trend in people like me, people who care about our values as much as about our physical wellbeing. The roots, they say, are in the rights movements of the 60's. They provide a description of the Civil Rights movement, with a focus on which aspects of that they consider important to the growth of a new subculture. Feminism receives the same treatment. In both cases, although they state that one of the defining features of this new subculture, they fail to give present-day examples of where these movements fit into the new thought. The environmental movement receives the most attention, giving the impression that the authors came at the new culture out of the environmental movement and have not done much research outside of that movement.
Adding to the feeling I get of the quality of research done is the statistics online. The Cultural Creatives website shows statistics which were not included in the book itself. The demographic spread shows clearly that most of those surveyed were White. Indeed, judging by their numbers, 84% of the survey recipients on whom they base most of their data, were White or did not list their race.
In sum, I'm skeptical, both of the research methods and of the novelty of this shift to sustainability. However, I can see within our culture the effects of it: more and more holistic providers, the growth of the life coaching industry, and the growth of organic foods from a specialty niche to their own section in the supermarket. I'd like to see this trend continue, and include all of the US, and grow past just our culture to inspire other peoples to adopt sustainability where possible.