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What we lost when we lost the commute

Time is a zero sum game

I am suddenly seeing a host of articles like this one by Taylor Borden describing what we are doing with the time we have gained by not commuting. Generally, these are happy, “time with family,” “self-care,” and especially “reducing sleep debt” stories. (Insert happy face smile here.)

Time, however, is a zero-sum game. Like matter and energy, it can be neither created nor destroyed, even though it can easily be wasted.

I stopped commuting long before the pandemic, and my commute time wasn’t being wasted. Each time when I stopped commuting, my life lost something.

The first time, I lost a wonderful carpool of great fun people, along with a guarantee that my work day would end on time.

The second time, I lost 700 hours of audiobooks per year. (Podcasts didn’t exist back then.)

The third time, I lost singing practice. I sing badly but with great enthusiasm, and the car was the only private sound space I had had.

I could have just kept in touch with the carpool. I could have continued to listen to audiobooks. I could have soundproofed a room, but I didn’t.

It is not that those things had to be lost, but something had to be and happened to be those things.

When you lost your commute, what did you lose?

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Written by Russell Brand

Russell has started three successful companies, one of which helped agencies of the federal government become very early adopters of open source software, long before that term was coined. His first project saved The American taxpayer 250 million dollars. In his work within federal agency, he was often called, “the arbiter of truth,” facilitating historically hostile groups and factions to effectively work together towards common goals

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