Now that the days are shorter, the drive home at night gets lonely. As one leaves the city, the landscape seems bleaker. Commercial buildings, franchise outlets. Fewer lights and fewer pedestrians and everyone dependent on cars.
The life of a commuter in the winter months is composed of morning departures in the dark and arrivals home in the dark. If one spends the day in an office building, it's possible not to be exposed to daylight for the entire day. With growing obligations at work and with children involved in various activities, it's easy to fall into a predictable routine of fulfilling scheduled responsibilities, where one moves like an automaton from appointment to appointment and the calendar runs life.
I wonder how some of us allow ourselves to get to this point, where work and obligations rule our lives completely. I sometimes fantasize about being free of responsibilities, perhaps working only part-time, and having the freedom to live life at a different pace; to live in the city and feel its rhythm without necessarily being part of the rushing; to have long, natural conversations with friends without worrying about having to run off to an impending appointment; to have time to reflect and be creative; or to exercise regularly without needing to do it in the dark and the cold.
Then, I talk to my dad and see another perspective: he's retired and has lots of time. His mind is youthful and his outlook optimistic. He takes good care of himself. Because his time is plentiful, he fantasizes about being involved in the work force again, about doing something for others; using his talent and experience to make the world a better place. Always searching, always looking for new stimuli, he's more than willing to give up some of his free time to become more engaged. Somewhere, perhaps, he hears a clock ticking off the minutes.
When he can't make any progress, he seems a little lonely. Our lives are different, but on these solitary winter commutes, this I have in common with him.