Last week, on a whim, I met up with two former colleagues for coffee. When we had first met a decade ago, we were charging full-speed ahead in our corporate careers. Today, all three of us are at very different places, but answering the same call.
One of them had been the patron saint of the macho hedonistic life. Today, as he bit into his salad, he said he had given up drinking and smoking. He now volunteers as a sports coach at St Catherine’s Orphanage every weekend. Once a collector of $200 Diesel jeans, he said he hadn’t bought new clothes for six months. His face looked radiant as he spoke, his eyes clearer than I ever remember them when he spoke: “I go home from work at 5:00 pm these days. My old dreams of success are still around. If they work out it will be great – but they don’t define me anymore.”
The other colleague at the table was a former marketing head honcho. He recently founded a company to innovatively use media and technology for education. His first project would reach a million poor children soon. “I pay myself much less than what I could have earned as an MBA at the age of 34,” he said to us, “but I feel good at the end of the day. I have everything in life – a house, food, clothes, dog, car, computer – and a beautiful woman to spend it with. I could have had a bigger car and a bigger house and two more Plasma TVs but I feel good about my life right now.”
When I look at my Facebook timeline, I see that more and more friends around the world, young and old, are waking up to something. My 70something dad has begun a water conservation campaign that has saved 5.5m litres of water and a pretty 20something hypnotherapist I know has begun an NGO for slum children. Not everyone is quitting & serving society – some are just beginning yoga, some are reconnecting with creativity, some are finding themselves drawn to spirituality or alternative healing, some are beginning to question whether their lifestyle is worth it and some are simply forwarding positivity daily. Old beliefs, thought patterns, persons, things and situations are exiting – sometimes creating temporary chaos and confusion as people grapple with ‘what-next?’
Psychics, channels and spiritual teachers say these are all effects of the rigid patriarchal Old Energy making way for a free-flowing New Energy: effects that we will see more clearly in hindsight decades from now. Whether you believe in this spiritual perspective (like I do) or have never heard of it (like my two friends), it doesn’t seem to matter. The change is happening anyway.
Much as I dislike most advertising, especially cola advertising, they do capture the zeitgeist. The recent global Coke ‘Crazy For Good’ campaign features random acts of kindness from London, Cape Town & Buenos Aires. “People call me ‘crazy’ and ‘weird’ and ‘strange,’” the young do-gooder in the Coke commercial says. “But it’s cool. I like it.” Right message, wrong spokesperson.
Speaking of wrong spokespersons, last February, even the arch-icon of ‘80s excess, Gordon Gekko, has a new mantra. In a new FBI ad, Michael Douglas denounced corporate greed and says his Gordon Gekko character was wrong — greed is not good after all.
If you can smell it all around, it has become cool to be good again.