There are many articles and blog posts about the benefits of quiet time and daydreaming. The concept sounds great, but also easier said than done. Creating the time and space for this "day dream" state can be difficult. I get it. I literally have to trap myself on a bus in order to achieve it.
I started riding the bus to reduce fuel emissions and support the local transit system. But I suspected that my quality of life would improve too. You see, I have always felt a sort of ironic calm and ease when I am stuck at an airport or riding a bus or metro while traveling. And I know it is because in that time, there is literally nothing else I can be doing. I get motion sickness terribly easy, so reading or looking at my phone isn't possible. Instead, these external factors force me (and in some ways give me permission) to slow down and just be.
I'm very privileged that for me, riding the bus to work is not a necessity but a luxury when convenient. I have a car. I don't have to coordinate with bus schedules to run errands or attend appointments. I can choose to drive if I see storms in the forecast or I'm running late in the morning. I live and work less than a 15-minute walk from a bus stop. So yes, it all works out very nicely to utilize this public transit option when convenient for me.
Although I feel like I am on auto-pilot when I drive, I am still actively making second by second decisions that impact my safety and ability to get to where I'm going. On the bus, I don't have to engage that part of my brain. I’ve found that when I ride, I don’t even want to listen to music or podcasts. I day dream and just see where my thoughts go.
Consider your day from rising to getting into bed at night. How much time in our day is spent inputting information or interpreting what is before us? Or a better question, how much time are we not inputting information or making decisions?
As I wrote earlier, I empathize with how hard it can seem to find the time to "just be". So perhaps a step towards change can start with a reframe; a different way of looking at the same situation.
Two years ago, I would have balked at the inefficiency of commuting an hour by bus instead of a quick car ride. But I’m starting to have greater appreciation for mental wellness over a self-worth based on productivity. Maybe things can wait. Maybe, just being, can be a thing I actively sign up for. And with that reframe, the bus turned into a luxury.
So what can be a “bus ride” for you? Where can you welcome an environment that forces limited productivity and "just being"? Situations like:
- Waiting in the carpool line to pick up your child
- Riding in a Lyft, Uber or Taxi
- Sitting at a stoplight
- Waiting at the airport
- Standing in line
- Waiting at an appointment
How often do we think that we can send a quick text, write a quick email, scroll through Instagram, or read a quick article in the above settings. Rather than putting the pressure on ourselves to make additional time for quiet (although it’s great if you can do it), can we at the least start to recognize opportunities we already have but aren’t making use of? Can we reclaim those small moments for ourselves? I challenge you to be on the lookout for those opportunities in the next week.
I thought sharing this short School of Life YouTube video would be a good ending to this post. It’s titled The Importance of Staring out the Window. In closing it says,
But some of our greatest insights come when we stop trying to be purposeful and instead respect the creative potential of reverie. Window daydreaming is a strategic rebellion against the excessive demands of immediate (but ultimately insignificant) pressures – in favour of the diffuse, but very serious, search for the wisdom of the unexplored deep self.
Let the strategic rebellion daydreaming commence.