Life’s tough. If you haven’t made it big by the age of 23, you’re already a failure. When you’re at home you can always be doing more work on your dissertation, or planning the next big night out. Shouldn’t you have applied for some gainful employment instead of procrastinating your life away? When you’re at work or university, you carry 101 different jobs and responsibilities with you, along with unknown problems and stresses waiting around every corner.
But in between these tempests we have a moment of clarity, if we choose to accept it. This moment is our commute, the simple act of travelling from one tormentor to another. Regardless of the means of transport, the daily commute is the one time of the day where we can let our minds explore beyond the confines of the immediate.
Where else is there? Whenever you’re in one place, there is always something constructive you can be doing (or, indeed, feel guilty for not doing). On the commute, work is out of your hands; all you have is one single, simple task, and the time to air the voices in your head which are normally suppressed by real world banality. It’s time to make outrageous plans for the future, and time to rue past mistakes. It’s a time to meet people we could never have planned to see, and a time to feel truly alone with ourselves.
It’s that moment when the first driver steps out of his car in stationary traffic on the motorway, all hope of punctuality lost, or when incessant delays see a train carriage full of strangers alive with conversation. Witnessing the sun rise from a train window doesn’t lose its magic, nor does a walk through the anarchic joy of a snowstorm. The real world escapes us, and we have a chance to dream.