I invite you to appreciate the lessons you are unknowingly learning—you might just experience the same liberating feeling.
Wanderlust gets tossed around a lot these days. We all want to get away, to explore what we believe is unexplored, and to pursue the passions we are supposed to be going after. Every day becomes a punishment, and every person becomes the enemy. In the morning when we wake up, we curse time for moving way too fast, for always catching us off guard. We then go through the routine we have established ourselves to get through this standard of living.
For some, they get into their cars and drive away. For most, they have to live with taking the public transportation. The comparison may seem greatly in favor of the earlier, but you are wrong. There just some lessons you only learn in the presence of strangers.
YOU LEARN TO WAKE UP EARLY.
Of course we all wake up at some point in the day. Commuters however, have a special place in their head for the daily grunge of facing the morning with either bitterness or optimism. If you hate the traffic, then you are part of the 100% of the population. Sure you can hate time for speeding fast past you all you can, but you only miss out on the moments and opportunities that you allow to let go of. It may sound phony to say this, but the only way to not hate traffic, is to not be part of it.
YOU LEARN TO DECIDE FOR YOURSELF.
I only learned how to cross the street alone when I was in college, so you can only imagine how liberating it felt to successfully cross one of the most dangerous roads in the city. It may sound simple now, but if I did not decide at that moment that I had to learn, I will forever be cocooned in a lifestyle that’s full of apprehensions.
Crossing the street is one thing, but having to decide whether to ride the train, jeepney, FX or taxi is an entirely different story. It involves a lot of science to find the perfect ride to get you to your destination. And so you learn to decide for yourself, to calculate the time you need to get to work or school, to estimate if a particular road is high risk, or to finally get on to any and just keep going until you get there.
YOU LEARN TO DEAL WITH PEOPLE.
Now, commuting may sound like an individual activity at first, but it involves thousand others with the same goal in mind—to find the best way to travel, to get there as fast as possible, and to avoid as much problems as you can, and that often involves dealing with other people. But we all know it’s part of the equation. The person ahead or behind you in line at the ticketing booth might be revolving around a different objective in mind, but all three of you just want that ticket before anything else.
Most of the time, and I know you are with me in this one, you get annoyed at how slowly or rudely other people are acting. But you will never know what they are going through unless you are in their shoes, but even that is not enough to give you the license to judge their pace. Hence, commuting not only teaches us to deal with people, it also teaches us to be patient—something we all need to have more of.
YOU LEARN TO PROTECT YOURSELF.
We’re all aware about how dangerous the outside world can be, but here’s the thing: You will only be subjected to the horror of life if you allow it to horrify you. No, I’m not saying you shouldn’t face the reality of commuting, but there is a fine line between exposing yourself and being yourself. You can have an iPhone that you bring to work, sure, but you can’t whip it out inside a jeepney and not attract someone to take advantage. Because that is the reality of life; if you’re not too careful, you might lose your most prized possessions (and I’m not referring only to your iPhone).
Commuting teaches us to protect ourselves from other people, but more importantly, from our own spontaneous, and often, unmindful decisions.
YOU LEARN TO VALUE THE SMALL THINGS WHEN THEY HAPPEN.
A small piece of advice: when you commute, make it a habit to keep your phone, music player, books, and even school readings. Keep all those inside your bag and lift your head to appreciate everything around you. We could be looking down on our phones checking for profile updates for way too long that we completely forget how to appreciate looking outside the window.
Yes, you may not like what you see all the time, but that’s part of the beauty of commuting. Instead of choosing to look away, do your best to absorb what is really happening in your life and the lives of other people. The only way to know where you’re going is to look ahead the road.
I’m not discounting the true bliss of wanderlust, of spontaneous trips to real far-flung places. My point is, appreciate the kind of travel you have to live with everyday (in whatever form it may be). Commuting may not be the most attractive activity, but just like the very first time I crossed the street alone five years ago, I invite you to appreciate the lessons you are unknowingly learning—you might just experience the same liberating feeling.