I grumbled for many years when I commuted to work. What a waste of time and energy. But in my car or on the Metro, I often used that quiet time to ponder personal and professional questions that a busy schedule and lifestyle pushed to the background. I’d compose letters, devise strategies, consider options, balance competing demands while alone in my private zone. I now use that same time of reflection as I walk to and from my new office, solving the issues of our times and the mundane ones of my life. Or at least considering them.

As I notice increasing numbers of people — especially young ones — in similar places of transit with earphones plugging them into their favorite music — or whatever they listen to — I wonder when they find time to ruminate. I won’t even raise the question of what they are doing to their hearing when they blast their intake so loud that people half a subway car away can hear their sounds. That observation would give away my age.

All people need some regular private time for ideas to percolate. Where and when will the new generation find that place of private rumination? Does the brain separate intake and thoughtfulness? Some people can work and listen to the radio; others require total quiet. But that is different from the total privacy of the mind, which encourages rumination.

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