Stories for the Soul

What the Woman learnt about Work-Life Balance

Leaning back on her arm-chair, the woman failed to feel the comfort that the chair was offering her. How could she enjoy any ounce of comfort through the intense frustration that was strangling her tighter and tighter with every passing moment?!

The woman looked around her, and at the almost empty office space. Everyone else had shut down their systems, and had headed out an hour ago. Everyone had gone back home to be with their partners, their children, their friends or just be with themselves. Everyone, except her. She too, had a partner, a child, and friends to hang around with. She too wanted to simply stretch out her legs, and savour her cuppa. And yet, while everyone got to do just that, here she was, stuck in office.

But then, everyone else was also not aspiring for the top management position that she was ambitious to reach.

So, obviously, the woman had to stay back in office, put in extra hours, and do all the things that the others didn’t have to do. She had set herself up for this, hadn’t she? Where was all this frustration coming from then?!

Was it the guilt of not being able to make it to her child’s piano recital that was eating her up, and causing her to unthink her commitment to her career? Was it the frustration of not spending enough time with her husband that was causing her to stop her work midway? Was it presence of all the things that she was missing out on that was spiraling her into her vortex of emotions?

The woman, like every other human like her, had wanted it all. And she had gotten it all, hadn’t she – the loving husband, the talented child, the cozy home, and the challenging work space. She had it all, and yet, somehow, she was not having it all at the same time. Her feelings about work was disrupting her ideas about home, and her feelings about home was interrupting her idea of a career. And all this while, she had thought that she would manage to strike the balance with complete ease.

Rubbing the palm of her hands together, the woman looked into them. The complete picture was right there. The two palms fit together like two pieces of a puzzle falling into place. Should the two halves of her life not fit together similarly?!

The woman sighed and realized that she was not going to get any work done that day. She might as well surprise her family by going home early. Keeping aside her pending job for the next day, the woman enjoyed a lovely evening with her family, finishing off the day by stretching out her legs, and savoring her cuppa.

But it was only when she was about to drift off into sleep that it hit her. The woman brought her palms up to look at them. The two palms were never together. They were always away from each other. While they were two halves of the one whole, it took effort to being them together and fit them into the picture.

The woman understood that striking a balance between home and career worked like the two hands worked. It took effort to bring them together to keep the balance. More than anything, it took acceptance to understand the truth that this very act of balancing itself was not a constant. It was something that fell apart and came together like the two palms of the hands.

Dear Reader,

We live in a world that is constantly striving to reach a balance. Whether it is the balance between home and career, the natural and the artificial, humans and other species, earth and climate change – we are looking for ways and means to bring a balance into place.

But, if the balance was something that had always been there, then we wouldn’t be trying so hard at it now, would we?

Right through human evolution, the one thing that has so far, remained a constant, is the gradual loss of balance through the ages. Inequalities between humans and nature, man and woman, the haves and the have-nots, and people of colour and those of not, have only widened, despite the enormous growth that the evolution of the human brain has brought about.

It is only now, as the world itself moves towards becoming a globalized one that we feel the desperate need to strike a balance between our own two worlds – the ones that exist both within and outside us.

As we do this, we will run into a lot of frustration, especially when the two worlds collide head-on. Every time the emotions surge, it pays to keep in mind that just like how it is not possible to keep both hands together constantly, it is also not possible to keep both worlds balanced all the time. It takes time, effort and patience to achieve this state.

While for some, balance can become an everyday event just by letting go; for others, balance comes as a shift from one space and into another, because of holding on. Take the case of the mother who lets go of her career to bring up her child. When the child comes of age, she begins to work on her career. Has she let go of her career by holding onto her child? We may think it so, but the truth is, she has also been holding on her career all the while she had been holding onto the child. And just by doing this, the mother has already struck a balance between her internal and external worlds.

Here’s to learning the art of holding on, and letting go, for it is in this art, that the key to balance fits into the lock!

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