For the last five years until just recently, I walked to work every day. In 2014, I moved to the Bronx. I moved into a lovely pre-war style apartment just a 15-minute walk from the high school that I founded in 2011, the High School of Language and Innovation.
Walking to school everyday was fun. I loved walking past the cherry blossoms on Bronxwood Avenue in Spring, or seeing snowmen built on the large, glacier-like rocks on Pelham Parkway, or in fall, seeing the bright red maple trees around the New York State School for the Blind.
I liked saying hi to the crossing guard in front of the elementary school, and waving across the street to my building super, drinking his coffee and having his daily “state of the world” talk in Albanian with his friends.
I also see how I can idealize my old commute. I know I had walks through beautiful nature– where I noticed nothing, and was lost in my thoughts. I had walks where I worried to myself about what was going to happen when I got to work, or replayed conversations in my mind after the day was over. I sometimes had walks where I complained to myself about avoiding the large puddle by the bus stop, or other days, stomping through the snow.
In short, the walks were a reflection of me: if I was present, the walks were full of trees, people, sensations, unique weather. If I was lost in my thoughts, the walks were an annoyance, something I needed to rush through, to be over with.
Now, having moved to a lovely, modern apartment in the south Bronx, I live a 20 to 35-minute drive away from work, depending on traffic.
And I love my commute.
I love driving my Honda HRV, and I love driving, period. I love being able to adjust the temperature of the car no matter what the temperature outside, which seems like a miracle. I love listening to podcasts on Bluetooth, on anything from cooking to leadership. I love timing my ride so I beat traffic. I love seeing the sunset on the way home. I love being able to stop at a supermarket or small grocery store, shop for dinner, and not worry about how much I buy, knowing I can load it up in a car. I love that my home is an oasis.
And, there are times on my commute when every other driver is an inconvenience or traffic is going interminably slow. There are times I’m lost in thinking about work. There are times that the thought of driving is a drag.
The common denominator for both commutes is me. They’re both ideal in different ways and I don’t favor one over the other. The difference is day to day, whether I’m engaged the commute, or whether I’m lost in a complaint wishing it was over and it speeds by me, pun intended. And knowing it’s all about me has made all the difference.