I spend a lot of time in my car, mostly commuting to and from work on the weekdays. I used to hate my commute and feel guilty about all the miles I was driving. Eventually, however, I accepted that my commute isn’t going to change anytime soon and tried to find ways to make the best of it.
I re-framed the commute as my time to listen to my favorite podcasts, which helped a lot. I increased how much I commute by bike in the summer, which I love and want to do even more of next year.
I also just started paying more attention to the scenery around me. Instead of zoning out and staring at the road, I try to look around and see what’s going on. Often there isn’t a lot to see other than trees, fields, and the occasional crow. Mostly, I look at clouds. Sometimes, especially the past few week or so, they are so pretty.
Besides actually sorting of enjoy me commute now, I’m periodically rewarded for paying more attention. This morning was one of those times.
It was 4 am and I was driving to the airport. There was a clear sky and waning moon, but I didn’t notice that for the first 5 miles because my mind was mostly preoccupied by listening to a podcast and drinking coffee (and driving, of course). I eventually realized that I was being mindless and took a moment to settle in to the drive.
I looked up at the stars and saw the handle of the Big Dipper. I followed the handle to the scoop. Then I realized that I was heading north and would be able to see the North Star. As I shifted my gaze and located the star relative to the Big Dipper, a shooting star flew right between the two. It was a fun coincidence, and an extra bonus because it was the biggest (longest) shooting star I’ve ever seen.
This is why I like being more mindful, more aware of my surroundings. When I actually do it, I see lots of fun, little things that I would normally miss.