Ok, so commuting might be something that is odd to be passionate about, but I switched to mass transit a couple years ago and just wanted to share a couple things I have learned along the way.
Some of my motivation was altruistic, but I’ll be honest, some of it was selfish. I did feel guilty about contributing to the brown haze that covers our city. But I was also surprised at how much money I could save if we got rid of my car.
And it was interesting that making that change in my lifestyle actually started producing some larger shift in the way I thought about the work (especially time, space and the people around me.
The first thing I noticed was that I had to think about time differently because when I drove to work I had more control. With mass transit, I had to be little more fluid with my schedule because you aren’t in total control anymore. You have to figure out the rhythm of the system and synch up with that (and that system isn’t always perfect). Plus it took a little more time….
But that was ok, because I found out I could do many more things while I was commuting. My favorite being working, napping and lucid dreaming (all things you can’t do if you are driving).
And in releasing some of the control, I also realized myinner “control freak” was actually diminishing… plus my day would sometime have some unexpected surprises… like when my usual bus broke down and while waiting for the next one I had an amazing hour long conversation with an older Navaho man that really enriched my life.
I also found mass-transit provided me a block of time everyday where I could just close my eyes and be silent….. And in our media-rich, multitasking culture, I was finding amazing things in that silence…..Including deeper levels of creativity that I had never found before.
Space was another concept that drastically changed for me. When I was driving to work everyday, I realized that I often felt like I was living in box, and then traveling in a box…. to get to the next box. Even my own “personal space” started feeling like a box
Especially when a couple things I was watching at the time, blogs I was reading, and oddly enough the Sick Puppies music video for Free Hug made me feel like I had lost the sense of connection. A connection to my fellow human being (whether I knew them already or not)
SoI took the leap and decided to commute outside that little box (of my car) I was all of a sudden sharing space with lots of different people I didn’t know. And what I found is that I was bumping into all of these people with amazing stories…
I also realized that I got a chance to practice my skills at reading body-language (or intuition) with people. Because everybody there is putting off a signal, and on the bus you have to respect that signal. And about a year later, I realized that my personal intuition with people started getting a little stronger. And I think it was just from practicing intuition everyday…
Now people is another subject. The first several years I started braving the rush hour traffic in Phoenix, I was really stressed (especially since I moved here from a small town). It was especially odd to me that I would see accidents almost everyday. I almost felt like everyone else was against me.
But then I was reading some great ideas from one of my favorite authors, Brennan Manning, who encouraged me to look at what you have in common with the people around you (instead of what’s different). And all of a sudden these people became “my people” … and we would spend every morning together trying to get to work on time without killing each other.
So in carrying that concept with me when I switched to mass transit, I saw what I had in common with the people around me whether that was a nuclear physicist or a homeless person…. Which made me more open to what I could learn from that person. Plus, I noticed when people see strangers being kind to each other…. It ripples… in fact energy ripples….
I remember standing on the busback when the recession first hit us and everyone was tense and in fear mode… and this man in the back began whistling this soothing melody… and I was amazed out how much his peace was soothing all of us…. Like peace and kindness ripple….
So those are a couple of things that I have loved learning the last couple years. And a friend of mine (who is a therapist) always tells me that small shifts can actually make monumental change in our lives”…. which leaves me wondering about a couple things about our future….
Like..... what would happen to us collectively if we all took a break from our media-rich culture every day and were just silent…. Could we tap into deeper levels of creativity and innovation if we gave ourselves and the space to just marinate in thoughts and ideas.
And in a culture where its so easy to lose our face-to-face time with each other because of so much technology, what would happen if we were more intentional about being present …. and listening… and reading each other. Would we collectively become more intuitive??
And what would this city feel like if we all looked at the person next to us and embraced what we had in common… and were more open to what we can give to the stranger next to us, even in small kindnesses….
So I want to end with this idea because I think its empowering that we can co-create our environment together. And I truly believe that small shifts we all take together can produce a deeper level of creativity and connectedness….a kinder city… and bluer skies… If you’d like to join the conversation, tag your thought #ilovethebus and let’s learn from each other.