The other day I was on Metro North, a commuter rail that brings me from New Rochelle to Grand Central Station in Manhattan, an experience I’ve had for the past nine years since moving from the city to the suburbs. As always, I was using my commute time to read and write, but at some point I looked up to see the woman opposite me was not reading a newspaper, talking on a cell phone, emailing, surfing the Net on an iPad, doing work or listening to music. She was just staring out into space, perhaps deep in thought or totally cleansed of any thought.
At first I thought she was wasting her time. I probably write the equivalent of a book while on the train each year – and I certainly have read many while riding the rails. Here she was, unarmed of a device, publication or pad. She seemed naked and odd to me.
But then I realized she was perhaps the smart or lucky one, finding a way to be free of gadgets, distractions, or the words and thoughts of others. Maybe she was the liberated one and the rest of us on the train are just blind servants to consuming media in all forms.
Still I love how I spend my train time and find it gives me a chance to be in an intellectually stimulating zone, free of the world’s interruptions and annoyances.
I can’t judge another so easily, though it’s tempting. Who knows how this woman spends her other commutes – maybe she chose to do nothing or maybe economics and other factors made the choice for her. Who knows how she spends the rest of her day – maybe she consumes more blogs, magazines, and games than one could ever imagine. But for this moment, she was free to think or do nothing at all. It’s a novel idea, almost a luxury, that fewer people in fewer situations are embracing.
Okay, I have to go now. I finished writing this while on my morning train after having read the newspaper. Not much time to do nothing, but for me that’s just fine. I’m sure that she feels perfectly content doing what she enjoys as well, even if it nothing at all.
Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2012 ©