Meditations of a Commuter - Stories

Video: Ben Scott Productions
Music: Ron Mckean "Iced Sunset"

I’m heading home on one of those magical evenings when the sky is darkly overcast, the air is crisp, and the fog is rolling in swiftly over the East Bay hills on my left.

I can never listen to the radio on an evening like this when nature unleashes such a breathtaking spectacle. I relish this peaceful solitude and humbling view from within my speeding car. When I look to the right, down towards the Bay from 580, I can still see the waning sun shimmering above the peaks of the hills on the Peninsula, but in the sky above me clouds are billowing. When a thick cloud passes momentarily in front of the sun, obscuring the direct sunlight, it looks much more like the moon on a cloudy evening. Even though the air is very chilly, I deliberately roll down the two front windows of the car so that the biting, rushing, invigorating air can come pouring in. Even at freeway speeds, I love the feel of that cold blast, both exhilarating and spiritual!

Most commuters seem nervous, and impatiently zoom toward home, but I take my time to observe and relish the precious moment. The sun has the beautiful, ephemeral, waning glow of eventide with its fading light creating delicate shadows of the trees along the way. I decide to take the San Mateo Bridge tonight, even though it is a longer ride home, so I can have more time to marvel at the spectacular clouds overhead and the pinkish blue tint of the water in the Bay that glows with an otherworldly quality. Despite the howling of the chilly wind through my open windows, the nervous intensity of my fellow commuters, and the roar of determined engines, peace and serenity pervade my car as I pray quietly and gratefully. I am alert and driving at freeway speeds, but quiet and still in the depth of my being. The disappearing sun has an alluring orange glow that is ethereal yet comforting.

As I pass through the tollbooth and head out onto the bridge itself, the wide panorama of a Bay Area commands my outer attention. The formation of the clouds and the outline of the hills create gigantic shapes, like the sleeping bodies of the titans and gods. One group of fluffy clouds could be the beard of a slumbering Cronus, while another hill outlines the nubile form of a supine Aphrodite. I soon reach the apex of the bridge far above the water level of the Bay. The cold air and incredible rush of wind through the open windows allow me to feel like I’m flying. When the sun finally descends below the hills, I roll up the windows and snuggle into my seat, feeling invigorated, peaceful, aware, present, and so deeply grateful to be alive.