Let me tell you, the train this morning is not a happy place. It’s cold, dark and an early start, so i could understand if everyone were gloomy, but it’s more than that. We haven’t all climbed on and fallen asleep, no, rather everyone has embarked, fought for a seat and fired up their silver, grey and black laptops, then descended into a fugue of staccato typing and serious frowning. After we’ve completed the familiar jostle for screen space as Dells and Samsungs do battle with their smaller, slimmer (and just sexier) Mac cousins (me going bantam weight with the iPad), the tapping begins.
Amidst the uniformity of drab charcoal suits, a few tints of individuality stand out: the man next to me with a flask of tea, the chap with a snowboard helmet strapped to his laptop bag, the girl with the impossibly wild hair and flower power dress, cheerfully stretched out and annoying her neighbours.
But, all in all, it has to be said that it’s not fun here.
Except that it could be. You see, instead of working on the ‘Evaluation Observation’, or instead of working on the ‘Council plan’, you could be studying philosophy, you could be studying ecology, you could be learning about neutrinos, you could in fact, be flying free.
iTunes U is the Mac university, offering free courses from leading educational establishments, that you can download and take for free. With Audio, video, iBooks and Apps, there is, quite literally, a world of learning at your fingertips. Yesterday i downloaded the Philosophy course, sixteen modules, podcasts and media elements that combine to give you a coherent and challenging syllabus of learning. And there is so much more on offer.
Now, i realise that there are many things that you could be doing with your time, especially this time in the morning, that would be more fun than philosophy. But, i suspect, philosophy is more fun than what’s going on in most of the digital spaces around me. Routine is a wonderful thing, but sometimes it pays to shake it up a little. Our time is there to invest, spend or lose as we will, so we may as well take control of it and feel that we’re getting a return.
The daily commute (or occasional commute in my case) gives an uninterrupted piece of the day to invest in whatever activity we choose. Whilst work has a habit of spreading out like a middle age paunch to fill every available space, it might be more fun to do something different. It might be more fun to learn.