In Cayman (where I’m from), the vast majority of domestic employees (housekeepers, caregivers for the young and the elderly, gardeners, etc.) are not Caymanians. They’re people who come from Jamaica, Latin America or the Philippines to earn a higher wage than they would back home.
I have spent my entire life marveling at how they do this. Their circumstance has never been my own, so I ask them questions to understand. I ask about their motivations, how they spend their rare off days, and how they manage the ache of being away from the places and people they love the most. I ask them how they do all this while perpetually feeling like an outsider in someone else’s country. In most cases, this is what their life looks like:
They work 6 or 7 days a week, usually 8-10 hours a day. When they get their weekly or bi-weekly salary, they buy groceries, top up their prepaid phone, set aside rent and bus money, and pretty much every other dime they earned gets sent back home, to take care of children and / or aging parents.
There’s a whole conversation to be had here about social access, minimum wages, and the complex lives of immigrants and people on work visas.
But today, I want to say this:
When I feel waves of fear, I remember Maxine’s courage.
When I think I want to give up, I remember that Nino’s resolve has never wavered.
When I tell myself that being away from my furry sons hurts too much, I remember that Roger has chosen to be away from his human son and is proud of the education he can provide for his boy as a result.
The lights of courage, determination, work ethic and the pure power of the human spirit live in the bus boy in the last restaurant you ate at. They live in the woman who cleans the last public restroom you used. These lessons in soul and stamina live in the bus driver who’s been up since 3am, the grocery store cashier who has 2 other jobs, and the hospice nurse working a double shift.
There are people struggling with physical and emotional burdens of monstrous proportions. There are people whose pain you can literally not imagine. And they got their ass out of bed and are making the best of their day.
Today, remember them.
Channel their energy and focus.
Embody their drive and discipline.
You don’t have to sit at the feet of a billionaire in order to receive wisdom. What you need is close at hand. What you need is already all around you.