For 15 years, I took the same route every morning at 8:00 am to school. The method of transportation varied over the years: sometimes a barely-together bus, other times a car so expensive, you could save lives, but the route and destination remained unchanged. At 3:30, I would take the same route back.
This route was always somewhere between 20 and 35 minutes depending on the time of the day and minute of the hour. Traffic was irregular, but somehow still predictable. The route went through residences, shops, parks and the beach. All of which would change with the tide.
These details always slipped my mind: they would enter, step over a rug and have it pulled under their feet. Within reaching the short term memory store, they would be gone. This was because my attention was never here – by choice of course, I never realised there would be a day where these details would be images in a day dream.
My attention was on the music I was playing from a carefully curated playlist. My attention was on the day at school I was going to have or the day that passed. My attention was on the leaves outside the car window swaying calmly through hellish traffic . My attention was on the weekend that was approaching, and the plans I was making. My attention is always in a state of reflection and mental preparation.
This is the function commutes play in my life. These scattered moments of reflection and consideration. But it was not all thought, most of it was watching the beach and the leaves and listening to the same four songs on repeat. It was almost meditative for me. Dramaturgy would call this the back stage. It was the buffer between actions.
It gave me the time, space and energy to be alone, to be silent, to just absorb, assimilate and accept all that had happened and was to happen.
Because this was something I had been doing for fifteen fucking years (from my 18 year life), it’s a system my brain (unsurprisingly) developed with. It’s the fundamental wiring of my brain. My mental conditioning is a periods of solitude and reflection with starting and ending days.
Of course, I only realised this once the function commute had after it was no longer something I had access to.
Because my commute from class to my dorm room is a remarkable distance of 7 meters (this doesn’t even allow for a verse of a song), I found myself craving some alone-time after each class in college – which became an issue because my college schedule is a mess compared to what i had in school. If I take an hour off after each class, I’ll wonderfully waste about 3 hours a day. And that’s not okay.
And I can always not take that time off, but that will leave my in mental mess. I won’t be able to focus on any task, or do anything meaningful. I’d rather take the time off than be a mess in the head.
And so now it’s this 15 year old system I have to work around. This is something my brain needs, but my lifestyle has changed – drastically. I need to figure out a new system for myself that like offspring to what I currently am tuned to. But it’s so much easier said than done. The 30 minute commute to and from places feels like such a dream I’d rather live and sleep through.
Cover Image: https://images.app.goo.gl/mUbfP6YEd3WGMaiv7