Nowadays, most people fill their down-time or nervous stagnant state by staring at a screen. Whether on your iPhone, iPad, iPod, or just your TV, it’s more than likely that you pay more attention to this screen than your significant other. Hey, it’s 2013, and that’s the plain truth.
Many people ask me how I endure long bus or plane rides; how I avoid going stir crazy when encapsulated in the same vehicle- navigating through land or sky- for five, ten, even 24 hours. Honestly, a good amount of that time you’ll catch me sleeping. (And a bit of drool dripping onto my chin is not unheard of). However, for the (hopefully more attractive) hours that I am awake, I keep myself entertained. While I do usually have an iPod to listen to, what if the batteries ran out? What if I left my iPhone at home in another city or country (which I intentionally did for this trip)? What if, for some strange, abominable reason, I have no access to technology whatsoever on this long trip ?
Fret not, there are plenty of ways to keep your mind occupied without texting your bff, playing a game of Angry Birds, or watching YouTube clips of people falling into water fountains. Simply take a deep breath, remain calm, and choose one of these simple options:
1. Meditate. If you’re not familiar with the concept, check out the app Omvana before you take off on your trip. Relax every part of your body, starting with your feet working your way up to your temples. Imagine a place or time that brings an overwhelming sense of peace over you. Breathe in positivity, exhale negativity. Whatever your technique, meditation is a great way to put yourself into a pleasant trance, relax your mind and body, increase your contentedness and pass the hours away.
2. Stare out the window. You are bound to see a multitude of landscapes, villages, skylines and perfect vignettes of life. Imagine what it would be like to live in that village shack, construct the myriad of infrastructures, or be that tree overarching the highway. Even if you are on an airplane, the aerial view of the ocean and strange formations of clouds are quite marvelous.
3. Bring a pen and paper. Even if you are not inclined to paint like Picasso or write like Chaucer, there is still plenty of use for these tools. Write a bucket list of things you want to do before you die. Let your imagination go wild. Think about personality traits you would like to have. Imagine yourself as the person you would like to be- living life to your full potential, and describe that person- how you walk, how you treat others, what you look like, what you eat. Imagine yourself as an eighty-five-year-old reflecting back on your life, and write down the best memories you’ve had so far. There are endless things to write about.
4. Pick any one person on the bus or plane and thoroughly observe them- the clothes they wear, their facial features, what they are doing and how they are doing it. Imagine what their life is like and make up your own story about it. Give them a name, an occupation, a personal history, a complex, an addiction, a favorite hobby. Describe what their home looks like, what kind of car or motorcycle they do or don’t drive. Think about their family life, their aspirations, their failures. This one could keep you busy for hours.
5. Read. Even if you are not normally inclined to put your nose in a book, find something that interests you at the bookstore- even if it’s a magazine or newspaper, and fill your mind with new information, helpful tips, wild stories, reports of what is transpiring on the other side of the world. Give your brain some new food to chew on. There is an infinite amount of knowledge in the world just waiting to be discovered, and a long ride is the perfect time for this.
6. Imagine yourself in a parallel universe. What if you would have taken that job in Washington, D.C.? What if you would have married your high school sweetheart? What if you had dropped out of university to pursue your hobby as a career? Our lives are made up of an infinite amount of decisions, and ultimately, those decisions determine who we are. There are many different paths that we could have taken, and it is fascinating to ponder who we would be and what our lives would have been like (or perhaps are, in some other place or time?).
These are only six examples of ways to keep your mind occupied while en route, and believe me, the time passes much quicker when you are focused on something, rather than just watching the minutes lethargically tick by.
What about you? What are tricks that you use, or things you like to ponder when on a long ride? Do you rely on technology to keep yourself entertained, or do you have other device-less methods?