It’s interesting the lengths some will go to make the pandemic lockdowns more bearable. In back-to-back articles, I read about “Faux Commutes” and jogging in circles around your bed for exercise. A Faux Commute is any activity around the time you would ordinarily be commuting to work before the lockdown. So, the theory goes, a morning walk around the block or driving across town and back just to get a Starbucks creates our lost separation between home and work life. The ambitious exerciser calculated that 85 laps around his bed covered about a mile. In 2,227 laps, he was able to jog a marathon. That must be the best description of boring that I have ever heard.

One Faux Commuter was quoted saying, “I never thought there would come a time when I would miss my downtime from sitting in traffic. I did not see that coming.”

Another Faux Commuter lamented his loss of being an anonymous New York subway commuter because that inspired him to devour book after book. He said of his subway time, “No one is calling. No one is emailing—or maybe they are, but I’m not getting a signal.”

All of which reinforces my belief that the whole notion of a widespread “new normal” forced on us by the pandemic is some folks’ fantasy of a new society created in their own vision of what’s best for the rest of us. For absolute certain some changes will stick. But, if the pandemic were to suddenly disappear tomorrow, my bet is that most people would go back to their old lifestyles almost as fast.

People aren’t creatures of habit to the point of being stupid. By and large, habits are developed over time because they actually work the way they are. If the guy who loved to read books on the subway actually hated reading books and hated his commute, he would have made changes to his situation.

I am not a morning person. My brain just does not function until I have been up and around for a couple of hours. So, long ago, when I worked at the Martin Marietta facility at the far end of the Chatfield Reservoir, I came to understand how important that commute was to my sanity. For 45 minutes, I didn’t have to listen to anything. I didn’t have to pay attention or answer any questions. I could think about whatever came to mind. 

Today, my commute is seven minutes, give or take, depending on how I hit the light at Stagecoach. Nothing has changed with the way I am wired. An hour or so walk now serves the same purpose as my old commute —especially from our new home where I can wander the woods and never see a living soul.    

This is a bit of an aside, but I am almost shocked that after all my years of climbing and backcountry travel, I am just now noticing  how truly silent the woods are when you leave human trails and roads behind.

Here’s to hoping that I am right that the “new normal” will be a big bust.