Let’s be honest – commuting sucks. Unless you are one of the small (though growing) number of people who “tele-commute,” you are like me and have to drive to and from work on a daily basis. And if you’re like I used to be, you hate your commute: it’s typically a long, traffic-filled slog through a steelcage battleground, jousting with all the other people who hate their commute.
That has changed for me in the last couple years. Part of this is because I changed jobs about four years ago; where I work now allows me to drive in the opposite direction of most commuters. But the main reason is that I found it makes my daily mood dramatically better to develop ways to enjoy the drive to and from work.
Face it: you have to make the drive anyway, so why not find ways to make it enjoyable?
What I find especially intriguing is the way people act during the commute home. Think back to your most recent drive home from work – how many other drivers looked happy to you? Did you look happy to them?
Were you enjoying the fact that your workday was done, and you were finally free to head home – or were you frustrated and probably angry about the fact that you were sitting in traffic, fighting to get ahead and get home as quickly possible? I know I’ve had my own share of traffic-related blowups, the worst of which have involved dangerous games of “lane chicken” and brake-checking people who follow too closely. At one point, I even had a guy throw an open bottle of Gatorade at me.
I work really hard not to commute this way anymore, especially on my drive home. I make the drive home as enjoyable as I possibly can. For me, as you might have already guessed, that often includes incorporating back roads into my commute. Back roads are typically far more scenic, are often far less crowded, and for me, offer a chance to decompress and relax from the often-stressful days I’ve had at work. Back roads provide me with an elongated Zen moment, communing on the twisting roads with fresh air, trees, and flowers. Back roads give me a crash course in nature and geography, allowing me to watch the subtle course of the seasons as they progress.
And, of course, back roads offer plenty of photographic and blog-writing material.
Instead of spending time in our cars grumbling about the person who cut us off (much less being the guy who just cut someone else off), I urge you to join me and find a way to make your commute more enjoyable: It may be books on tape, or finding a great talk show program, or exploring the neighborhoods and shops between work and home. Maybe it’s calling and getting caught up with old friends or more distant family members.
Maybe it’s seeking out new and beautiful back roads and photo ops.
I just know that I have gone from being a miserable road-warrior to someone who loves his commute. My proof? I came up with the idea for this blog as I slowly made my way through the traffic I do encounter: looking forward to just getting across this bridge or through that red light and into the beautiful freedom of back roads.
Editor’s note: Aside from the traffic nightmare shot at the top, which was provided by co-editor Brian, all of the shots in this blog were taken along a back road route that adds a whopping 10-15 minutes to my drive home. I look at it this way – would I rather 30 minutes of miserable driving, or 45 minutes of relaxing beauty? Pretty simple choice, if you ask me.