Saturday, February 17, 2007

La Vida Contemplativo

I've commuted a little further than usual this time -- all the way to Puerto Rico with my son to visit my parents. I can't say I regret leaving the ice and the cold. Compared to my daily commute, it's only an extra 2-1/2 hours, not counting the drive to JFK, waiting for the plane and the drive from San Juan to my parents' home in Luquillo. OK, that adds an additonal 4 hours, but who's counting?

Far better than leaving the frigid weather was leaving behind the need to rush, to accomplish, to keep up with the Joneses. Here in Puerto Rico, everything is softer, slower, more relaxed. The sky and water conspire to create shades of blue so dazzling that the mind can't think of enough words to describe them. Azure leaps to mind, as does aqua, turquoise, ultramarine, teal, sapphire, cobalt and every other shade in my paint box.

The result is a chance to slip out of my daily skin and into one slathered with sunblock and indolence. Perhaps this is why I've been able to float without moving a muscle, face turned to the sun, the ocean gently cradling me in its saline embrace. I've never been able to float like this without moving; I've always needed to stay in motion so as not to sink. But somehow, I've been able to release this need and totally relax. If there's any souvenir I wish I could return to Connecticut with, it's that.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Existential Commuter

When is commuting a state of mind and when is it a physical state? For those of us who commute long distances every day, it's a little bit of both. While our peers who work closer to home often pity us, they are the ones who lack the chance to switch from the work mind to the home mind. Commuting, in spite of its obvious drawbacks, has its advantages as well. Chief among them are the chance to read, write, sleep, catch up on work and just plain think. It also makes us into a kind of ambassador to those at home who are not familiar with our destination city -- in my case, Manhattan. Thanks to my neighbors, I have become a sort of tour guide and ersatz expert on all things New York, whether I deserve that appellation or not.

In this journal I hope to share my journey, the travel information often requested and perhaps connect to my fellow travelers. After all, whether you're on a train, plane or bus or sitting at your desk, we're all commuters on this spaceship as it traces its annual route around the sun.