It takes 6 to 8 months to grow cotton, & no amount of hard work can prepone the harvest. We're not exempt from the ebb & flow of nature, & we, like the cotton, have our own pace.
The elderly rural women, incapable of hard labour, turn to spinning, but they're wise enough to know that rest during noon is non-negotiable. Our dyer, a weekend artist, understands the importance of downtime. Our warper, also a farm labourer, reserves evenings for work. Women artisans intuitively know when it's the time to quilt & when it's best to sow & harvest. They harmonize with the rhythm of nature, not against it. One of our women weavers doubles as a security guard at a women's hostel, while another works in a small restaurant. Women have been the embodiment of versatility, & masters of balance.
All of them are compensated based on their output & have time for the 4 F's: friends, family, festivities, & funerals. Despite this, the farming & craft sectors are not only the backbone of our nation but have silently contributed to nation-building for generations.
Our tailors in Bengaluru decide their schedules as long as they complete 8 hours, including lunch & tea breaks. One tailor, a father, finds time in the morning to pack his daughters' lunches, another, in the evening, tends to his toddler, & yet another lends a hand to his physically challenged wife in the kitchen. They all have their time & space, a reminder that harmony between work & life is entirely achievable.
At times, by choice, my wife & I work more hours, but we don't burden any of our workforces. We understand our priorities & find contentment in our outcomes.
But these days, the trend seems to be - Overwork. It brings to mind the Japanese term "Karoshi," which means 'Death by overwork.'
Overworking, a result of poor planning, is heralded as the key to success as long as one's definition of success includes ceaseless exhaustion, insatiable material desires, & power-hungry ambition.
Can any product crafted by overworked & underpaid individuals be aspirational? In a world where laughter & sanity are invaluable, let's not be seduced by the mythical 70-hour workweek in pursuit of more, more, & some more.