I am one of those unlucky (?) creatures, whose workday starts in a train station, carrying usually a backpack with all sorts of things inside, from laptops and makeup to shoes and lunch boxes.They are called commuters. They are creatures of habit and so easily recognisable. They are always standing in exactly the same point in the platform. They have a favourite railway carriage. They carry thermo travel coffee mugs and usually they are busy with their phones arranging the meetings of the day or replying to emails.I am a veteran, long –distance commuter. Commute time in total: three hours every day except weekends, and holidays.My day starts at the platform, waiting for the train and the one hour ride to Southampton. From there, I walk for about thirty to thirty-five minutes, depending on the weather conditions and my mood. I used to take the bus, but not anymore.

At the beginning I was a typical commuter, with the laptop, the phone calls, etc, etc… I used to read all these pieces that round up the best research on the effects of commuting on human health and happiness and I had nightmares of a sick and depressed old woman sitting alone to a railway wagon that was going nowhere.

My commute is killing me! I thought.

Something had to be done!!

I could relocate of course, but with two professionals in the family working in opposite directions our home location was perfect. In addition, I liked the small village I live in and I had no immediate plans for a career shift. But, still something had to be done!

Thing is I like trains. With the exceptions of the occasionally signalling problems and other delays, I was not particularly annoyed with my daily commute. But this was not enough; I had to make it pleasant and productive as well.

It was time for a change. The first step was to stop – with a few exceptions in extraordinary situations – working on the train. No phone calls, no emails, no laptop or tablet. Instead, I am carrying a book and α Kindle.
I used to be one of those readers that are continuously complaining that they never have the time to read the books that were stacked in the bed site table. Well, not anymore! The last two years, during my commute, I have read many wonderful books, great literature or others related to my work.

I have started talking to people, you know real people, not Facebook people. I now know the train conductors, some with their first names and a few of the regular commuters. I know the ages of their children, where they work, their hobbies. We talk about our daily lives and the books we read.

That’s about the train journey. It still left about an hour walking. Well, that’s the best part. I am one of those people that find the enrolment in a gym a useless and expensive activity. Why spent your money joking in a closed space with 20, 30, 40 more people when you can exercise and lose some fat at the same time, in the open air?

But fitness and health are not the only benefits of walking to work. During that time I have also learn to appreciate and yes, even love, opera. I have tried many times over the years to understand the power and enduring popularity of opera. As it usual happens, it was difficult to find and invest an hour to actually listening to a whole opera. There was always a distraction, something else to do more important or urgent.

And now I had one full hour, doing nothing else but walking and listening to this unique marriage of words and music. For months opera has been my walking companion; still I haven’t managed to understand its power, I don’t think I ever will but that’s ok, because it is not about trying to understand it anymore. It’s about the joy and the sorrow, the awe and the goosebumps listening to the powerful and full of emotions voice of La Divina to sing “Tempra, o Diva, tempra tu de’ cori ardenti”.