During a recent workshop, I was paired off with a lady who I have known for two years without ever getting to know her. We had an hour to talk to each other. To go beyond offices dynamics and discover the real person behind the designation we normally interact with. It was a time of revelation for me.
I knew her husband was working in Dubai, and that she and her daughter lived with her in-laws. I knew 'diligence' was her middle name, and that to give her something to do was to know that it would be done on time.
What I did not know was that she did not employ a maid at home. What I barely suspected was that she got up at 4:30 every morning to clean the house, wash her clothes, and prepare breakfast and lunch. I knew she left home at 6:45 every morning, and made straight for office after dropping her daughter off at school. What I did not know was that after she got home at 8:30 in the evening, she spent an hour supervising her daughter's school work before serving dinner and washing up after that. While I might have expected her to crib about the amount of work she had to do at home, she was actually thankful that her mother in law cooked the evening meal.
I asked her when she went to bed, and she told me that she slept for 5 to 6 hours.
"How do you manage with so little sleep?", I couldn't help asking.
"I am used to it right from my college days", she said. "I used to finish morning classes, then go to office. After work, I had my shorthand and typing classes. I didn't have to cook those days, but I did do the dishes and the laundry."
After hearing her story, I felt almost guilty about seeking self actualization. I choose to drive myself to physical exhaustion because I want to remain mentally active. Many people I know wonder how and why I take on as much as I do. But here is someone doing a lot more than I could even dream of doing, and doing it not because she wants to, but because she needs to.
I wonder how many of the people I meet everyday on the train have stories similar to hers. I don't possess a hat, but if I did, I would doff it to her, and all the others like her.