Commuting in Quiet

When I first volunteered to spend my commuting time without actively using my phone for a week, I really didn’t think about what I was getting myself into. I live on South Campus but most of my classes are on North Campus, with a few scattered on the Medical Campus. My weekdays include anywhere from two to five bus rides. Beside my time on the bus, I do a good deal of walking every day. Although this may seem like much to some people, it is still noticeably shorter than my commute to high school, which took approximately an hour each way by bus and subway. I knew I spent a good amount of time going between classes, but I never paid much attention to it until this week.

I jumped right into the first day, riding five different buses in silence. I totaled 94 minutes of commuting time between busses and walking. These 94 minutes would usually be spent listening to music or calling my mom, but without a specific thing to focus on, I observed more about my surroundings. The first thing I noticed was how loud traffic and bus engines are! After I settled in to the silence, my first thought was “what do I do with this empty time?”

I am no stranger to silence. I was raised Quaker, and in lieu of traditional church services, Quakers observe a silent worship. When I came to college, I found that this practice was something I missed but I never took the time to keep up silent worship on my own. Although traditionally this silence occurs in a meetinghouse with little to no interruption, I decided to give it a try during my commute. The first few days I found it hard to focus inward with all of the noise on my commute, but by the fourth day I was able to block out the sounds and be truly introspective. Having this time to clear my head and tune in to myself made my days much more enjoyable overall.

What did I gain from this experience? I found that giving myself moments of silence throughout the day allowed me to be more introspective and grounded. I also learned that a great way to worry your mom is by going from multiple phone calls a day to none. Will I stop using headphones for my daily commute? Not completely, but I plan to spend my first bus ride every day in silence.