It should be noted that even though sacrifice is clearly present, Emerging Sages speculate about the generative rejuvenation that comes through their civic engagements. Even when volunteer work is closely related to work being done for pay, there is something about it that brings new energy to the paid work and provides a level of gratification that a formal “job” rarely does. That doesn’t mean the conflict over seeking balance among family, career, and civic engagement is absent or reduced. A considerable amount of tension and struggle is still present and expressed by many of the Emerging Sage leaders. Even when a good balance is struck for a brief period, something usually happens and everything goes off-kilter again. As one Emerging Sage leader observes, “It’s very easy to get all-consumed in volunteer work, given my passion for it and the outcomes it yields.” And this is a person who doesn’t have children and doesn’t have to balance volunteer work with family time! Another Emerging Sage, an elected official, says the sacrifice to his private life is an unresolved trade-off against the gratification he receives from his public service.
The loss of private life is particularly apparent in small “island” communities like Grass Valley and Nevada City. In large part, this tension centers on the management of boundaries: “How do I say ‘no’ when I’m overwhelmed, or when I clearly haven’t devoted enough time to my family, job, or even my private life?” “What about the boundaries that separate my paid from my voluntary work, and when does one bleed into the other?” “How do I find time to really connect with other people?” “How do I set boundaries when I am always available by email or cell phone?” “In the age of texting and twittering, how do I find time to be off the grid?” “How do I find quality time with my partner, my children, and my friends? We no longer leave work at 5 pm, and we no longer devote our evenings to family life.” “When is my down time?” The Emerging Sage leaders find that setting clear and consistent boundaries is very elusive—especially in the age of electronic technology. It is always a tenuous balance! Personal life, work life, and civic engagement all seem to flow into one another, and what was once seen as definitive boundaries blur and merge.Download Article 1K Club