I had just begun to read One Hundred Years of Solitude. I had left the book on my table while I rummaged in my bag for something when my colleague (a senior) cast me a look as if I were crazy to read such big a book. (It wasn’t that big, still—)
“Why are you reading stuff like this?” He raised his eyebrows in a scorn, then shook his head continuing, “Read about marketing, about selling, business, and technology. Those are the stuff that’s going to help you in future. These are just useless.” He cast a dirty look at the book I had wrapped in a polyethylene cover to protect its beautiful art.
He wasn’t the only one. About three years later, I had a similar conversation with another senior colleague. This time, it was poetry. I had mentioned reading some new poems when he suggested I read about the latest mobile technology instead. Sure, I laughed, I’ll subscribe to all tech magazines and read them, but poetry is for my personal time. And he smiled in a crude way shrugging, “Well, read this during your personal time.”
To which I replied, “I need a life.”
He just laughed it off, but I felt proud of myself. The first time, I was new at the job and worried about being rude to an experienced person at work. The second time, I was more concerned about myself. I had grown up.
But the fact remains: a lot of my colleagues, friends—even my parents—feel that work has become such a large part of our lives that we have no time for anything else. My married colleagues complain how they can’t bond with their in-laws. Some others worry each day that they leave home for work even before their children wake up. Even the typical 9–5 corporate world now has employees clocking in from 8 to 8 or 8 to 12. And it’s not just for a day, it’s for days together.
In a flurry of product launches and a rush of marketing campaigns, we often forget that home is a place away from office. We spend so much time at work, and all of the little time at home thinking about work. The balance goes to the noose.
It’s sad but it’s reality. We’ve lost so much of our life to work that we seldom realise what we’ve lost. We spend all our days toiling to ensure someone else’s luxury while we skip lunches for meetings, put off a family reunion for an official trip, and stay a little longer than midnight to finish testing the code. And the purpose of it all—an extra shift, a higher bonus.
However, at the end of the day, lying in bed, thinking about the tasks for the following day, we fail to feel the warmth of the blankets, hear the soft—yet evident—creak of the fan or the wind tapping against the windows, and notice the curtains swaying in the breeze. Somehow, while we were busy living to work, we lost the will to live at all.
My colleagues are (un)living examples, and I’m walking on the tightrope. It’s time for a change.