How I fell in love with commuting

For the better part of the last ten years, I have been getting coaches all over the country.  9 hour coach journeys to meet one of my closest friends, about a thousand 3 hour journeys to see Mr. Meg when we had a long distance relationship and a 2 hour daily commute when I was working as a community development worker.

Forced to relax

During this time, discussing my frequent coach journeys with colleagues and friends was met with loud groans and mainly one word. Why?!

Let’s be honest, preferred methods of transport don't typically involve stuffy buses, with infrequent air conditioning, strangers with smelly food and extremely limited option to escape.

But for someone who has great difficulty sitting still, it’s been another story completely.

Having to be quiet, to sit still with just myself and my thoughts/a book/music forced me to relax (and nap!). There’s something about countryside flying by, dazzling lights of hundreds or so cars and usually a beautiful sunset makes it difficult to be productive, to do some extra work and tackle an endless to do list.

When I was making much more frequent trips than I do now, I really relished the time to just think. Think about different things flying around in my head, not just about something I was planning, somewhere I had to be, something I should have done. But actually reflect, to see life in terms of the bigger picture, not just the bubble that so many of us feel contained by. In many ways, it felt like borrowed time.

Space to breathe

Not only that, it would really help to get my creative juices flowing, allow my mind to wander, and allow me to breathe - apart from the times when the bus sewerage failed, that’s another story.

Obviously, being forced to relax shouldn't really be the only reason or opportunity  to relax. But in a world of to do lists, e-mail alerts at two in the morning and a nagging voice in the back of our heads, this is a good first step in the art of relaxation.

So next time you’re faced with a couple of hours of what I'm going to refer as passive time, what are you going to do? Pack a book you've been looking forward to reading, make sure you've got headphones, and my number one tip, double check you've got something to make your neck nice and comfy when you (inevitably) doze off.

And for those of you who (are lucky enough to) commute, chances are, you don’t get paid to be working on a fast moving vehicle (think of the insurance!). And we both know that if you work while commuting, you  probably won’t exchange that for down time when you get home.

Things you can try

Instead, upload some podcasts about something completely work/day to day unrelated, pick up a book you keep picking up longingly on your way out the door, or listen to a playlist of songs that make you smile/feel alive, and breathe.

Enjoy being you, because you are amazing company.

So what about you? Are there occasions when you’re forced to relax? Or opportunities you could take for some borrowed time? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.