This rings true... I have a commute of a little over an hour each way, and I'm one of that 20 percent grateful for the "Zen time." (Of course, I pay over $200.00 a month for those idyllic gardens of mental sand, another big factor in my planned move...)
When I got my job, I was just glad to have...A Job. The market was grim around that time for People Who Do What I Do, especially if temp gigs in flyover states don't appeal to you. So I'd drive my hour or so and just sit behind the wheel of my noisy little Toyota thinking, "Damn...I have a job. And it's sort of--a real job." I've worked as a day laborer, newsstand stander, night watchman, CD store sneerer (at customers' hunger for Phil Collins and Michael Bolton), medical experiment guinea-pig, retail robot, tech writer, computer trainer (well, I trained people to use them--but same difference), bank gofer, personal assistant to an interior decorator, grocery store price checker, barnacle scraper, and so many more stupid jobs that it seems like I've done almost everything, and What I Do Now is far and away the best.
I actually wake up in the morning and think, excitedly, "Oh, boy! I get to do What I Do today!" Most mornings. Some, I'm just on intra-cranial caffeine drip and a prayer.
Or, actually, a series of prayers, because that's what I use my commute for: communing. With G-d...the Infinite Beyond Conception...Kali...various personifications of the Pleroma...or maybe just an imaginary Friend with a disconcerting knack for significant coincidences. Having this time to center myself on something other than duties, subordinates, superiors, paycheck, leisure fantasies has been one of the most significant factors in whatever spiritual growth I've managed since 1998 and my encounter with my first Teacher.
It didn't start out so grand and noble, this commute. As I've already indicated, it was pretty secular back in the day. I remember one sunny morning spitting water all over myself after I'd had the misfortune to swig from a bottle of Dasani at the precise moment Howard Stern let fly a flavorful bon mot. Fortunately this evolved into me listening to a CD of my guru singing the songs of Ramprasad...I did that for years, and it calmed me, and led me to see Kali in the rising sun, the greening leaves, the silver fog, even the dead animals by the roadside who in their death hosted legions of the living: germs, flies, vultures (ever a symbol of the Divine Mother, for this very reason).
And soon I wanted to sing, so I sang to Her songs from a wondrous cassette called Jai Ma Kirtan. And soon singing wasn't enough, so I poured my heart out to Her, learning that I could say the most trivial, insignificant things and still feel the sun of Her infinite love. Soon I was saying a mantra from my heart chakra, the bija mantra for the heart chakra, and I felt it opening, felt myself prising it open like a safecracker heeding the thuds and clicks to unlock a bright treasure...
and now I give Her myself, my day, my every act...knowing I might re-take these things in selfishness or fear, but knowing, too, that only in the gesture lies the real: excellence is not an act, but a habit. Some mornings I really don't feel like praying. I'm too goddam tired or have too much on my mind, and I'd rather just zone out to a CD or take in the sun-touched, misty scenery. But I know I have to throw myself at the divine--have to stomp the spiritual gas pedal to make escape velocity...and in this steady practice I'm starting to see everything else as Her unfolding.
One day early on, going home, driving through the swamp, I saw all the trees become living flame. The whole world turned to flame in the mantra I was saying. Nothing like it has happened since, but I know I'm kindling myself with every mile, every loving word sent aloft. "Today the world turned to flame," it said in my journal...and so it is now, in the pixels before you that only exist in surging neuronal fires...in the fire of memory, fire of anticipation or doubt...fire of wanting that G-d lights in each of us, wanderlusting us, leading us home.