There’s a movement afoot in Manhattan, according to NYT reporter Allen Salkin, in his recent piece “Seeing Yourself in Their Light”…and those feet doing the moving? They’re more likely to be bare than stiletto-clad.
The article (which, not incidentally, appeared in the Style section) chronicles women in their late 20s to late 30s who’ve ditched the late-night-havin, vodka-swillin, label-lustin life in the fast lane in favor of something else. There’s former PR gal-on-the-town Gabrielle Bernstein; now she’s leading classes in her apartment as a “spiritual life-coach.” There’s former actress Kris Carr, who, one month after appearing in two beer commercials that aired during the 2003 Super Bowl, learned she had cancer, and took the opportunity to get deep, chronicling her experience in the documentary “Crazy Sexy Cancer,” and following it up with a couple of books and a Web site. There are many others like them, and their offerings are being devoured by a slew of young women for whom, Salkin suggests, books like Elizabeth Gilbert’s wildly popular “Eat, Pray, Love” resonated. Of the phenomenon, Salkin writes:
The new wave offered up a few playful names for themselves–”the Charlie’s Angels of Wellness,” “Spiritual Cowgirls,” and “Spiritual Superheroines.” It’s clear they are proffering guidance at a time when urban woman like themselves are eager for it. Thomas Amelio, managing director of the New York Open Center, which has offered classes on self-transformation for 25 years, said that he has noticed far more women in their early and mid-20s signing up for classes on meditation, shamanism, and Ayurvedic healing than ever before. Many started with yoga but have moved on. “They are looking for something that is functional and practical that makes life easier to deal with,” he said.
The piece continues with lots of certified life coaches and otherwise-confirmed experts, weighing in on whether untrained (ahem, 29 year-old) “life coaches” are a good or a bad thing. But to me, that’s kinda beside the point. What I took away from the piece is that, clearly, young women are looking for help.
And while I have no problem with self-empowerment, it strikes me, perhaps given Barbara’s and my posts of earlier this week, that there’s something bigger, something less about the self, something more collective going on. You’ve read the study: Women’s happiness is on the decline. So it makes sense that, as a whole, we’re hungry. We’re in a state of transition, aching from the growing pains. And while the transition is collective, each one of us feels the growing pains acutely, individually.
And so it’s logical that so many of us are seeking… And what is a guru, self-proclaimed or otherwise, if not a guide? After all, wandering through uncharted territory is scary. There’s no Life GPS (er, or is there? Technology is moving awfully fast these days). With all the choices, all the paths laid out before us, I think it’s just about impossible not to find yourself wondering, Am I going the right way? Am I making the right decisions to get me there?
Life is hard, crazy sexy hard, and if someone claims they can show us the way, well that’s something we are inclined to get behind. Even if it means we have to leave our Jimmy Choos at the door.