My commute is killing me, maybe

Literally, according to any health article from the early 00s through 2010s. We all are sitting too much due to the transfer of our work from moving to sitting. We work longer hours and drive farther to reach those jobs. And since sitting is the new smoking, and I quit smoking (nearly six years now), then all of that was for naught since I’m driving an hour each way to campus.

To be fair, I enjoy this time, this relaxing death drive into oblivion (apparently). I listen to podcasts or Kpop. Sometimes I play one of the lo-fi hip hop channels as I drive under the canopy of trees that line the back roads. Many times I don’t listen to anything at all and just ride to school or to home in silence.

Well, that’s not exactly true.

I wrote a couple of poems on the way home one day. I pulled over in a church parking lot to dictate them into my phone. This happens a lot when I don’t listen to anything in the car. Writing is something that my brain does automatically, sort of. I always have a part of my mind that’s narrating what I’m doing, what I’m feeling, shuffling around what I’m thinking. I’ve noticed in all the times I’ve had long commutes, that the writing part of my brain really lights up when the muscle memory kicks in and the ride is smooth.

This is one of the best parts about my commute and I know where all the safe places to pull over are in every stretch of road.

But those silences are also potential pitfalls. I’m not sure if it’s the ADHD, or the only child, but I talk to myself. Not just muttering, but full on conversations with, well, no one. If you could listen in, it would sound like I was talking to someone, because I pause and react and laugh and the invisible person in my passenger seat.

I know what you’re thinking (maybe), but it’s not an exercise in rehashing conversations, or arguing where I’m always right. I am often wrong. I am wrong a lot. In fact, it’s kind of weird how often I discover I’m wrong when the only person I’m talking to is me.

What I am is basically doing is journaling. I’m doing the “writing is thinking” without being able to use my hands. If I could trust my phone not too lock half way through a monologue, I would record my voice with the intention of transcribing when I got home.

I would never transcribe it though.

Exhibit A

It’s best that some of these conversations stay in the stale-coffee smell of Big Red (my car.) Some of those are big releases of frustration and some of them are vile, mean, mostly focused at myself. I know that I am purging negative thoughts this way before I come into contact with anyone else, but I think that sometimes the release isn’t 100% complete.

There is residue, like old crumbs woven into the seat upholstery. Those feelings I don’t write down, not with any depth linger, and I wonder if I need to pull off into that church parking lot and disgorge.

A note: I have done this kind of talking to myself for as long as I have memory. I have heard anecdotes of my imaginary friend (David from Sesame Street, if you need to know) and my conversations in my childhood room. This is one of the ways I process the world. It has always felt a bit strange, but also a bit real. My mind feels realer in these moments than when I’m being a proper person.

Anyway, I don’t think that too much introspection is good for us. I think there are benefits to being a bit unaware of yourself. Self-awareness should always be powered on when you realize you’re being hurtful, or negative, or if you feel that the universe has it out for you (it does not, sorry.) But I think switching that awareness off is best when you’re with (good) friends, or enjoying your hobbies, or laughing. Never be aware of your laughter. Projectile laugh all over the place.

When I originally came up with this idea for a post, I think I had a different plan. I think I wanted to talk about the time that it takes away from my responsibilities, or the fact that taking a walking break halfway is logistically hard to do, since it just adds time to my commute. I don’t really remember what blog I wanted to write. But this is the one I wanted to write now.

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