Twenty years ago, I traveled through Nepal with some friends. Even though we were traveling on a shoestring, prices were so low that we were able to hire a car and a driver and tour the entire country. Along one narrow, treacherous stretch of road, men were working to widen the road by blasting away rock from the mountain side. We had to stop while they worked.
As we waited, I looked out the car window and saw a young woman working in the rubble. This caught my interest immediately since I had seen very few women working in any capacity since I arrived in Nepal. Her back was to me and her long skirt and hands were covered with dust. As I watched, she filled a large basket with rocks. After she filled the basket, she took a long strap-like handle attached to the basket and put it around her forehead so that she could carry the basket on her back. I thought to myself, this is the worst job in the world! I was beginning to feel very sorry for this young woman who was doing such back-breaking work, when she turned to face me. I was shocked to see that she looked extremely happy, almost euphoric, as if she was the most successful woman in the world.
I’m not sure why she felt this way.
Maybe she was providing for her children or helping out her parents.
Or perhaps this job gave her the freedom to do things that she wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.
This got me to thinking about what success really is.
Most Americans feel successful if they have a lot of money in the bank, a beautiful house and a nice car. But I have never seen anyone look as successful as that young Nepalese woman.