Don’t just get to work .. commute!

Why wouldn’t one like to start a monotonous workday or end a stressful one with a drive at 80 mph, wind gushing through the windows and Led Zepplin blaring through the car stereo, is beyond my comprehension. As for me, I love my commute. It’s more often than not better part of the day, not just because of my hippie inclination to music but for the quality thinking time it affords.

Our days are increasingly occupied with friends and family, chores to run at home or work, time spent on hobbies etc. What little time is left is easily consumed by the infinite sources of media – the ever present and the cancerous tube or the addictive internet. There is hardly any time left to ponder, or introspect -except for that wonderful commute.

Good investment decisions, such as the one from this morning’s commute – to cash out of the stock market and shift to mutual funds [1]; ideas to share on my blog, such as this post itself – thought up during this evening’s commute; solutions to many seemingly intractable problems – like the best way to run outdoors at night, are all examples where my commute has made a difference. But, these are just examples that work for me now, when I drive to work, different circumstances could present other opportunities.

A few years ago I was commuting by bus, spending about an hour each way, in a few months that I had to do that – I finished reading the “Design of the Unix Operating System – Morris Bach” and the “Linux Kernel Development – Robert Love”. I haven’t finished anything as technical and voluminous since. It’s an aside, that they were completely irrelevant to my job, but that’s just poor judgment, besides I am sure they were good for my soul [2]. You just need to jump start the process the commute itself would unleash your creativity.

Commute is not a waste of time, it’s quality time like no other. Its regularity and duration are a boon, not a curse – you can bank on them and plan around them. It spares you time to your self with a minimum of distractions. A highly qualified surgeon I know, refers to the toilet seat as his thinking chair – for the very same reasons. It would be a sad state of affairs if one could not occupy/ entertain themselves with their minds for even an hour or so a day. Don’t let that happen to you.

Try to make most of this time: get podcasts you would like to hear, get a book on audio, call friends and family you should stay in touch with, read books, write papers whatever – do what works for you and switch when you find something better. I recommend dropping the windows, turning up the music, and contemplating life.

Ignore the people who talk about the cost of fuel, or the depreciation of the vehicle, or the fare, or the cost of a few speeding tickets etc. They are the kind who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.


[1] In my opinion the economy is looking good, the housing will continue to crash and the stock market as a whole is going to rally in 2006. Better returns at a significantly lower risk can be gained by simply investing in funds rather than picking individual stocks because economic factors are going to outweigh individual performances and will be the primary factor determining the stock prices.

[2] I learned the concept of certain things being good for the soul, from Prof. Harry Perros at NC State.

About amit

I was born in Kanpur, India in 1977. I did my schooling partly in Kanpur, Surat and Udaipur. I spent most of my schooling years in Udaipur in a boarding school. This was the most enjoyable period of my life predominantly because I made a lot of friends and played a lot of football (my first love). My school years brought in a sinking realization that I was good in academics, average in football [even after my most sincere efforts :( ] and to put it euphemistically 'artistically challenged'. Hence cool careers in photography, sports, art & design or music were all beyond me. I took up what I could do best, and enrolled for engineering at Nagpur University. College brought its own pleasures, I had my share of beers, bunked classes, read the 'Bhagvad Gita', learned yoga and picked up love for traveling. After graduating I was one of the lucky few to get a great job at Infosys Technologies. The best thing I got from my first job - my Yamaha Rx 135. There were not many weekends when I did not explore places in and around Bangalore on it. In two years though my desire to pursue further studies caught up with me and I enrolled for a M.S in Computer Networking at North Carolina State University. Here I picked up basketball, love for stand up comedy, liking for the 'other football' and offcourse a little bit of computer networking. I graduated in Dec 2002 and am currently working for /n Software. I am slowly evolving into a die hard Linux and Open Source enthusiast, trying to pick up skydiving, biking, running and photography. Some might call that progress. :)
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