The man I prefer to be occasionally drives to work in silence

We breathe media.

Most of us spend more time than is probably healthy staring at glowing rectangles. Even this very second, you’re consuming media that someone else created for you to consume (hello! I see you! Thanks for consuming my media! I created it for you!).

But you need a break; your head needs a break. And the most reliable time to get that break may be on your way to work, when your thoughts can be your own.

At the suggestion of a colleague presenting a seminar on mindfulness, I tried something new last month.

The first day I made the decision to drive to work without any audio in the car except the engine, the fan, and the clicking of the turn signal, it was disorienting. I worried that I was missing something, wasting time: Why am I not listening to the news to find out what I will be outraged and incredulous about today? Why am I wasting perfectly good podcast time? Why am I giving up the only opportunity I have to hear that new Ariana Grande song without Amazon or Google creating a digital record of it to embarrass me with later?

My time

Once I got over the initial panic, however, I began to experience the upside my colleague had been talking about.

The drive is my time; nobody is going to interrupt my thoughts. My boss isn’t going to pop in with a question. My son isn’t going to need help with his zipper. The dogs won’t need to alert me that there’s a robin in the neighbor’s driveway that must be destroyed. I have something on my commut that is fleeting at home or at work: Quiet. Solitude. I can form deep, uninterrupted, complex ideas, like a modern-day Henry David Thoreau would do when he went to the woods to live deliberately without his wifi connection. I can be more aware of the hills and trees I’m passing, the clouds, the flocks of birds. I can reflect on my morning, and my plans for the day. I can arrive at work with my mind a little more clear, a little more focused, a little more ready to tackle whatever’s waiting for me.

I don’t do it every day; I’m not ready to give up today’s top pop hits just yet. But every once in a while, it’s a relaxing way to start the day on my own terms, with nobody’s thoughts but my own.

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