Traffic is a bitter pill everyone must swallow in order to enjoy the sunshine, beaches, and opportunity of Southern California. I thought I could escape this by living in a city with same name as my office. But like everyone else, I reluctantly lost the battle with my commute. I’ve used apps like Waze to help me out, but it only saves minutes…doesn’t give me the empty streets and endless green lights I had hoped for.
If I were a dog, I’d be a german shorthaired pointer: I always need to be doing tasks that activate my mind…or my restlessness will get the best of me and I’ll take it out on the couch (read: family). I tried sports radio for a while, but ‘Deflategate’ wasn’t enough to keep me from gnawing on the legs of the table when I got home.
I’ve adopted 3 commute practices to help maximize my time in the car.
- Listen to Podcasts
I’ve found a handful of Podcasts which help feed my mind/body/soul. There are thousands of podcasts available about virtually any topic that you find interesting. I listen to podcasts on personal growth, spiritual development, creativity, science and art, theology, and entrepreneurship.
The amount of excellent content being created by really talented is amazing. There’s no reason to spend even 3 minutes listening to something uninteresting or useless. You could fill up a handful of lifetimes with the fantastic content podcasters are creating these days. Some days I get in the car to drive to/from work and sit in my parking space having a difficult time deciding who I want to learn from the most. (and most of this content if free!)
2. Call People You Don’t Typically Have Time to Connect With
My life can feel like an interconnected series of treadmills where I move from one right to the next. I don’t have much time to spend on the phone with people I want to connect with…and when at home the noise level is so high the person on the other end probably thinks I’m talking while hanging out on a trading floor ran by small children.
I know some people I call would probably prefer if I texted them, but if they don’t answer I’ll leave absurdly long voicemails, sometimes in different accents for my own amusement. But even if we don’t talk I think it’s still valuable to let people know I’m thinking about them.
3. Sit in Silence
This has become a favorite of mine. If you’re like me you could spend every second of every day responding to the alerts, notifications, important and view-changing political conversations on Facebook(smh), needs, worries, and bustle of life.
Most days my head is as full as “the 5” during rush hour. This is when I know I have to turn my car into a mobile monastery and spend time practicing intentional thought. I picture each member of my family and think about things I’m grateful for about them. I practice breathing deeply and slowly…but I don’t do this too long or I could pass out and cause even more nightmarish traffic for everyone else stuck on our paved purgatory. I like to pray for the people in the cars around me or that I pass along the road. I like to pray for the systems and struggles of my city.
I’ve found this intentional time of thinking (or mindfulness) of others grounds me in the present. This in turn makes me view the time as a rolling prayer and meditation station…instead of a torture chamber where the only object in the room is a giant second hand ticking away and reminding me I’m not being productive.
Just to clarify…I’m not saying my need to feel productive is grounded in all things healthy. I believe rest and work are both needed companions on the road to wholeness. My natural leaning (in this season of life) is to need to feel productive. I have had other seasons where my life was very slow and it was a good practice for me.
**I once tried doing a Periscope video while on my commute home. Even though my viewers assured me it wasn’t illegal, I didn’t think their advice would hold up in court if I got a ticket. “Judge, I would like to present as evidence user “GregShredz1989″ who told me he didn’t think it was illegal to scope and drive…”