Staring at my ever declining ICOCA card balance, I’ve developed a greater respect for those who commute long distances on a day to day basis. It’s incredible to think about how most people in Japan have grown up taking the bus, train, and monorail, and as a byproduct, have developed the patience to continue to do so for perhaps the rest of their life. While I’ve always found solace in alone time as long as there’s a nice view, there are moments where I feel impatient because it feels as if time is flying by too quickly.
Between breakfast, commuting to school, school, commuting back home or to other places, eating dinner, showering, getting ready for bed, and studying – it’s difficult to find a balance between going out and studying or doing homework. The trains, monorails, and buses stop running around midnight, so that also limits the amount of activities you can do. But typically, if I go out, I can’t find the energy to study, do my homework, or get much done because of how exhausted I am at the end of the day. One can argue that you could do your homework, study, or read during long commutes, but during any rush hour or crowded situation in general, your mobility becomes impaired because of the amount of sweaty and tired people pressed up against you. It’s especially frustrating when you realize how much money you spend commuting every day without a car.
However, I’ve become more grateful for having a car back in California. I use to think long commutes were only relaxing because I’d hop on a bus or train to wherever once a week (I drive in San Diego, but not in LA) – but, I realized that traveling long distances once a week and every day are entirely different feelings. Some individuals commute two or more hours a day, have homework, work full time, have families to take care of, and need to repeat this schedule every day. I can’t imagine what that feels like, but now I have a better understanding of what someone who does might feel like. For them, it’s not an option, it’s just something you must do in order to get through the day. Sometimes you might miss the train or bus, it might get delayed because of an accident, or you might just get lost and end up on the wrong bus, train, or monorail.
That’s part of life, but because of that, I’ve learned that prioritizing is important when you’re aware of how little time you have. Although there have been many times where I’ve felt stressed because of my lack of energy and things I need to accomplish, reflecting upon this experience, I’ve started to re frame my mindset. Instead of resenting the lack of time, I’ve become grateful that I’ve been challenged to figure out ways to accomplish what I need to, and to also develop more patience in my daily life. More importantly, it’s taught me to never take anything for granted, regardless of how small or big it is.