There’s nothing like a commute to make me think existentially. ;) The 1.5 hour commute up to and 1.5 hour commute back from 3600 gave me plenty of things to ponder.
My first reaction was to resent the wasted time. I could’ve been on-site! I could’ve stayed home! I could’ve been eating clementine oranges like popcorn instead of debating about whether to get oatmeal from the cafeteria! (The oatmeal _was_ good, though. First time to try it with almond flakes and dried apricots.)
It was tempting to blame other people for assumptions I had and decisions I made, too. If only this, if only that.
And I confess, I didn’t make the most of my time at 3600, either. When my teleconference finished and I confirmed that no one was going to be around all day, I decided to skip the afternoon rush and work from home instead. I didn’t feel comfortable pinging random strangers for a quick coffee/hot chocolate break, and I knew I’d feel better working from home (with healthy food within reach and the freedom to do jumping jacks during my hourly breaks) than working in a cubicle without a good view of sunlight.
Three hours. I kept myself busy. My DS Lite proved really handy as an MP3 player when I was walking and as a game machine when I was sitting down. I listened to executive summaries and book reviews of “Mastery”, “Success Built to Last”, “Citizen Marketers”, and “Go Put Your Strengths to Work”. I played Brain Age 2, getting my brain score down to 25 years. I even drew a little using DS Colors, which I’ve been using to sketchblog. It was not a waste of time, but I still had that nagging feeling that I could have used that time better.
Or could I?
Could I have done anything better at that moment, in that situation: during the commute? No, I don’t think so; I’m reasonably happy with what I did, given the circumstances.
If I didn’t have that commute, could I have used the time more wisely? Now there’s a more interesting question.
Could I have worked more? It was hard to tell today, because I let the stress affect me. Overall, I think my work hours would have been the same, although less stressed.
Could I have done something else to work towards my goals? Write a blog post, write part of my book, hem my pants? Would these alternate activities have been worth _not_ going? I can’t really say that, either. These are things I would like to do, but it wouldn’t be fair to say that I should have been writing instead of commuting, and then still take a break. Downtime is important. Gaps are important. Life needs room.
That seems to be a healthier way to look at it. Start from the assumption that commutes are downtime and that’s okay, then look at the glass as half-full. Maybe throw in a few visualization exercises to take advantage of time, too. Hmm… I’ll try that on my next commute.
As for the other point–not feeling like pinging random strangers–I’m going to try experimenting with being social at IBM. Hey, it worked in TorCamp, it can work at IBM. Of course, it helped that people at TorCamp events were there to network, but still, it’s worth a try. I can meet people and make friends. =)
It’s funny, but the On This Day widget on my personal blog tells me that precisely three years ago, I linked to a post about making sure that there was space in life. The original link is gone now, but here is a mirror of the essay: “Quitting the Paint Factory.” An excerpt:
Ah, but hereâ€™s the rub: Idleness is not just a psychological necessity, reqÂuisite to the construction of a complete human being; it constitutes as well a kind of political space, a space as necessary to the workings of an actual democracy as, say, a free press. How does it do this? By allowing us time to figure out who we are, and what we believe; by allowing us time to consider what is unjust, and what we might do about it. By giving the inner life (in whose precincts we are most ourselves) its due.