published 19 April 2015, The Standard
Since the office moved back to Makati last month, I have had to make adjustments to my work load and travel routines. One of the more mundane changes is on coming home every night. I have decided to avoid the MRT.
I have had enough experience taking the same train in the past, long after the evening rush hour. Imagine being exhausted from the day’s activities, from mental exertions at work, and then walking to the station, putting yourself “out there” alongside equally exhausted bodies all desperate for a smooth ride. One look at the long lines -- for the tickets, for the bag inspections, at the platform, and you would tell yourself: “I work so hard I don’t deserve this!”
This early, I have settled on an alternative.
Actually, my house up north is just one ride away from work. A very long bus ride. And while the “very long” part may instantly conjure horror scenarios for others (like the thought of “very long” lines at the Ayala station on a payday Friday evening), I find that this arrangement works for me.
Why? Because I try to teach myself that going home time is strength recovery time.
The journey is so long that it is impossible not to find yourself seated, and comfortably, at some point. And when you are , it is time to stop thinking about the ride as travel time.
Think, instead, me time. Imagine then two hours of being by yourself, cruising through Edsa and watching the metro as it winds down after another busy day.
Take out your music player and earphones and return to that playlist containing your favorite songs. What is the soundtrack of your day? Your state of mind?
Hum along (not too loud!) to familiar tunes as you observe other people traveling with you. Where might they have come from? Do they look like they had a rough day at the office? Or have they found a job to tide them through, in the first place? That man and woman sitting in front of you -- why are they together but not talking to each other?
Use your innate curiosity, too, to scan any potential threats to your security. Learn the basics of clutching your bag close. Try not to fall asleep.
Take a book out of your bag. Imagine having the time and opportunity to read again. List the books you have always wanted to read and be amazed at how many you can finish in a month.
Or, you can look out the window and reflect on the events of the day. Seriously answer the question: How did your day go?
Did you get much done, or anything at all? Were you able to tick off most things on your list? Was there anything you would have done a different way?
How did you treat others today? How did you allow them to treat you?
Make plans, evaluate decisions, think about the future. Is there anything in your life you wish changed and are you in a position to effect that change? Why do it at all?
Or, why not?
(When am I moving houses so that I am closer to everything?)
Or think about this country, what the news contains, and where our leaders are taking us. Try not to be depressed.
You can put together what to wear tomorrow, where to take the kids for the weekend lunch, or what you forgot in your grocery list.
You can find inspiration -what topics do you wish to read or write about next? What adventure would you want to leap into?
How can you appreciate little joys, sleep more and complain less?
Before you know it, two hours will have passed. When you get home, and although it’s nearing midnight, you will be amazed at how you can exchange stories with the family, watch some sensible TV, even put your feet up as you sip some wine.
And then get some serious rest, wake up for all the same things tomorrow, acknowledge that your life is full AND charmed -- and look forward to the opportunity to just sit still and soak up everything on your next ride home.