Have you ever sat in the car, frustrated by the time you spend in your car, fantasising about what you would do if you got the time back? In my case I spent over two hours a day in the car. Such a frustrating experience. In the morning I was cursing that time. I felt I had to be at work at a certain time because of the appearance of being there when I really could have gotten to work in half the time if I left 45 minutes later. In the evening I was desperately trying to get home in time to be there for my daughters bath and spend at least half an hour with her before she went to bed. Often failing. Sheer frustration.
I had a narrative going, If only I didn’t have this drive as part of my life I could be…well the perfect version of myself. I would drift off into a fantasy life. I would work out, I would eat better, I could learn to code. I could start my business. I could spend time playing with my daughter. I could cook again. I could have coffee with my husband, maybe hold hands on the way to the coffee place. Now it is true that a two hour commute has a genuine impact on your time and it does limit what you can do every day but it shouldn’t stop your life.
I realise I created a mythical version of myself on those long long drives. I became aware of a perfect self that in my mind I couldn’t actually become. All because of this commute. What an incredibly negative pressure to have in your life. The presence of a better more perfect self that only emerges when you have a life you can’t possibly live. Except that, at least in part, the commute lead to the creation of the magical gap year as a reality. As my friend Tom Panos says, sometimes the best gifts come wrapped in shit packages.
Every day I am conscious of giving myself the gift of this time. 10 hours a week for 48 weeks. 480 waking hours or 20 full days. So in the last week as I have been coming out of the haze of newborn feeding my husband and I have been asking each other what is it that you really want to do today.
Some days the answer is I want to have a shower (after a bad night of no sleep) or we need to wash the floor. Some days we are really honouring our choice to come here.
I have been cooking. I used to love cooking. Music on, wine in hand, I am normally a follow the recipe, pre cut the ingredients, go step by step, kind of cook normally. I put a lot of pressure on myself as Andy is a great cook. This time I relaxed and just enjoyed it. No wine of course but somehow I think that made it better.
Today it was a glorious day. I walked with my mum and little charlie to the end of the beach and breathed in the view. The local headland is called “Look at Me Now” headland and it was ringing in my mind. Look at Me Now. I had a swim in the ocean. It felt absolutely glorious. I swam with Lily and she was laughing and loving the water. “Mummy and Lily are swimming together, Mummy Mummy!” She was so happy. It was brief as feeding time crept up on me but it was wonderful.
We are on the right path to finding out who that new version of ourselves is. Every day there’s more joy (and sleep) and definitely a whole lot less commute.