My office changed locations a year ago. I went from a 5.7 mile commute to an 18 mile commute. To get to work, I now ride the bus and train, instead of a bicycle. This results in a substantially longer commute time. My bike time was about 30 minutes each way. My bus and train time is 90 minutes. I certainly didn’t want this change, but I have been trying to make the best of it. So, what do I do with a 3 hour commute each day?
To catch the right buses and trains, get some of my work done in the morning before I leave, and make it to work at a reasonable time, I start working each day at 6:15 AM. Then I head into work, work the rest of my day, and head home. I don’t arrive back at home until 5:30 PM. Some days I really dread this schedule, but there have been many positives with the new office, some I expected and some a total surprise. This week marks my one year new commute anniversary. I want to commemorate by sharing 10 good things about this change in my life:
I never seem to be able to get enough sleep, so a guilt free nap while commuting is a plus.
Before this commute, I rarely ever listened to music. You could delete the songs from my smartphone and I would not notice for six months or more. Now, I enjoy my favorite songs each day. Is this really a positive? Maybe not as much as some of the others, but it is fun to relive emotions and memories that songs evoke.
8. Picture taking
I love taking candid pictures and riding public transportation is a great opportunity to do so. Sometimes I really want to capture someone, but they seem extra aware of what is going on around them and I can’t figure a way to get the shot without them noticing. Other times, I kind of get caught. I think the person suspects me, but they aren’t sure, so they don’t confront me or they are too nice to confront me. I have a goal to take at least one picture each day I ride the bus or train. Most of the pictures are of other riders, but they can also be of interesting things around me. Sometimes it is a real hassle to get an interesting shot, but I hope if I do a good job, I will have a good journal of this time in my life.
I like staying caught up on FaceBook. I feel it helps me stay in touch with friends and what they are doing, and, I admit it, it is entertaining. But I often feel guilty that FaceBook is not the best use of my time. Well, with commuting I have time. No guilt 🙂
6. Research and shopping
I do a lot of my shopping online. Other than food items, I could easily get by without local stores. One good thing about online shopping is how easy it is on Amazon to research an item. I can read reviews and have a really good feel for an item before I buy. Sometimes it takes a bit of digging to get to the bottom of which of many items to buy, but it eventually happens – it just take time. Now, I have time.
5. Study and learning
I learn by watching videos, listening to videos, and reading. I pull out my smartphone or tablet and away I go. I collect information on things I am interested in, and then get them onto my device to use during my commute. Lately, I have been studying yoga and the correct way to do my moves. I have also studied health, meditation, religion, travel destinations, philosophy, classical literature, visual arts, and ballroom dancing. There is so much to learn and commute time is a great time to do it.
4. Stretching and exercise
I do discrete stretches as I wait for the bus or train, such as a forward fold or a subtle tree pose. I wish it were more acceptable to work on Warrior 3 and my splits, but I don’t want to be known as the weird old man that stretches on the train platform. So, I do what I feel is socially acceptable, or at least not crossing the line. And, far more often than I would like, I need to run between buses and trains, because there is no choice if i want to catch the next bus or train. Sometimes I run even if I don’t need to just so I am getting in better shape. My current goal is to be able to run the 1.25 miles between one of my bus stops and my house. I know this is not very far, so it shows how bad of shape I am in that this is worthy to be called a goal.
3. Patience and stress control
There is always the concern about missing the connecting bus or train. The stress builds as I get more concerned, but then something cool happens. I tell myself there is nothing I can do about it, stop looking at the time, and take a deep cleansing breath. Miraculously, I feel so much better.
This has been a real shocker to me. I guess by being friendly, I increase the chances for social encounters, but I would not have guessed to this degree. I have made friends with many of my bus drivers and a few people that I regularly commute with: Don, Chuck, Dave, Jared, Carey, Pete, and others. One to two times a week, I sit and chat with Don, my 850 bus driver for about 15 minutes as I wait for the train. We have become quite good friends. With Pete, we talk about photography. H sounds very talented. Jared tells me about his social life and we have good talks together waiting for and riding the train. Stacy is getting re-married after 17 years of being on her own. I really enjoy these relationships, and though they will probably go away with changes to schedules, they are very real right now to both of us, and I think we help each other. Maybe this is not true socializing, but I also recognize and pick up little bits about the regular riders. We know where we get on or off, in some cases we know where the other works, and we notice when the other missed a day or is no longer on the bus. And finally, this really is not socializing, but it is always interesting to see the variety of people on the train and bus. Some are headed to the airport. Some look homeless. Some play a ukulele and sing on the back of the bus. There is always something interesting to watch.
This is not related to the commute, but it is related to my new office. They offer a free yoga class twice a week and five months after we moved in, I started attending the class. I’ll talk more about this in other posts, but yoga is my current obsession. It has helped me with flexibility, balance, strength, calmness, and so much more. I could do it every day, and probably need to. There is so much to learn and to practice. It has made me heather, more aware, and changed some of my attitudes and outlooks. I only wish I had started years ago but better late than never. If it were not for the free yoga class at my new office, I would be missing out on so much and not even aware of it.
So, in summary, there are a lot of wonderful things that have happened on the bus and train. Many of them could not or would not have happened otherwise. I kind of think of it as forced to do good. Ha ha. I don’t want to do this forever, but while I am doing it, at this time in my life, I want to make the most of it and embrace all the places it takes me. Maybe this sounds like I am trying to be profound, which I really don’t intend, but in many ways it is profound. And finally, as I am trying to understand myself better through examining my life, I am reminded that, though I might fight something I do not want like crazy, when something comes and must be, I am willing to try to make the best of it.