We spend around 50 to 70 minutes a day commuting: often stumbling, caffeine-fuelled, out of the house and onto public transport, ignoring eye contact wherever possible while idly checking Twitter.
It can feel especially tedious at this time of year when the days grow dark at four o’clock and there’s the particular challenges of the rush of warmth on the train or tube, steaming glasses and making the number of layers you’re wearing become at-once redundant. Or it might be a mind-numbing boredom of a slow, solitary, car journey stuck behind rush-hour traffic.
Happily, threads are here to help, with ways to make these necessary winter journeys a little more interesting:
- Observe your surroundings. Turn your phone off for the journey and look outside; up and around. Imagine fun backstories for the people walking by. Make a list of the five best coats you see. Doodle the rooftops. Watch how the clouds and colours of the sky shift and change.
- Make your commute a way to create space for God. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sadness in the world so I find picking up a free newspaper and choosing a few stories a really practical way of starting to pray for some of it. If you’ve never prayed the examen, an ancient practice of reflective prayer, the start and end of a work day is ideal: 24/7 Prayer have a great resource for it. Pray for the ins-and-outs of your day. Maybe even pray for the person sitting next to you, if you’re feeling brave.
- Get your podcast on. Unleash that interest or passion that you don’t get to indulge in during your everyday work; listen to a TED talk or catch up on a sermon. For a bit of a different vibe, try ‘soundscapes’ which aim to capture an acoustic environment. If you’re in a city and hankering after the great outdoors I particularly like Gordon Hempton’s: this one guides you through a forest.
- Be social. Buy the person behind you in the queue a coffee. Break the awkward silence and chat to the person next to you on the train: ask them where they’re from, where they’re going and what gets them up in the morning; share some of your story. (Introvert disclaimer – believe me, this is literally the last thing I want to be doing first thing in the morning. But chatting to people on public transport genuinely produces some of the best conversations; maybe try this occasionally, or just let someone know their scarf is excellent.)
- Write a letter to an old friend, or a postcard to your grandma. Tell them all the things you love and value about them (I’m very much of the opinion that we should spontaneously affirm each other more often).