Communing with Commuting
there and back again
The most special time for me in jiu jitsu isn’t even the jiu jitsu itself. It’s the times actually after class, after I’ve been folded and prodded in every way imaginable, that I feel the most alive. Zipping down the (mostly) quiet DC streets late at night has become somewhat of a spiritual experience, one that lends me the opportunity to reflect deeply on my life, self, and jiu jitsu.
I always play the same songs because the playlist progression tells me how long I have until I get home. Limon y Sal on 11th street, for the bargoers. Seagulls at Euclid Ave, where a gentleman complimented me on following the rules, mere seconds before we witnessed a violent three-way car crash. Wild Horseradish Jam for crossing 14th Street, a much calmer version of jams usually found on that place.
This is a magical time. Forget meditation — real solitude is riding a scooter down a city street, that, at any other hour, is filled with the shouts of children playing soccer, cars berating each other, buses chuffing along, and excavators and drills pounding against the concrete. I know every pothole and bump in the road; where to slow down and speed up; where cops hang out; where people are most likely to jaywalk; and most importantly, where the places are for spotting corgis out on a late night stroll.
A lot of people feel that commuting is a waste of time. An inconvenience and just something to get through so they can actually rush to the next thing.
Yet for me, I take this time to learn about myself, by observing how I behave in the transitions from one place to another.
When commuting, you have to understand where you have to be patient, and when it’s okay to take a risk to get ahead. There will be people that rush past you at places where you’ve stopped, because you aren’t ready to keep going, but then you eventually catch up, and even pass them again, because they did not know the same obstacles along the way as you’ve experienced yourself.
There will be people who do things that are unfair to you, without warning or respect, and you have to learn how to calmly let them proceed because you have no control over their actions, only yourself. There will be places where something scary happened before in the past, where you have crashed and bled, where you have had to keep going even though you were in pain. And when you come across the same place again, you have to remind yourself that what matters now is that you are careful and that you learn from your mistakes. A single commute is an ephemeral experience, and yet we will repeat it countless times in our lives.
There will be times when you show small acts of kindness for someone who should have known better, and times when you lose your temper at an innocent mistake. There will be moments when you are forced to go with the flow, and other times, when you choose to bend the rules. There will be detours that you didn’t expect, roads blocked for long stretches of times, and delays that pop up suddenly overnight. There will be rough patches of road that rattle your teeth, and smooth stretches that feel so good to move across.
And there will be times where torrents of tourists crowd the city streets, and times when a familiar voice pierces the veil of polluted noise and says hi to you. There will be moments when you can rest under a shade and moments spent melting in the sun. There will be times when you would rather be somewhere else, and times that you wish this moment could last just a bit longer.
Though the roads we travel may stay the same, we are a different person every time.
Si quieres un poco de mí (If you want a little of me)
Me deberías esperar (you should wait for me)
Y caminar a paso lento (And walk slowly)
Muy lento (Very slow)
Y poco a poco olvidar (And little by little forget)
El tiempo y su velocidad (The time and its speed)
Frenar el ritmo, ir muy lento, más lento (Slow down, go real slow, slow down)
- Lento, by Julieta Venegas
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