The cocoon effect

I have a fairly long commute to work. I take the Expo Line from Sapperton to Waterfront and travel time is 36 minutes, per the Translink site. I then transfer to the Canada Line, traveling from Waterfront to Langara-49th Avenue, another 14 minutes. That’s 50 minutes, with another 10 minutes or so spent waiting on platforms and walking, so about 60 minutes total. Not the world’s worst commute, but not exactly a trip around the block, either.

I usually pass the time in one of two ways, either listening to music (usually when I have just finished a book, or am forced to stand), or reading. I have read dozens more books than I would have otherwise thanks to this commute.

Of late, I’ve been doing something a little different. My current headphones are Jabra Moves and while they are technically on-ear, they cover my ears enough to be pseudo over-ear. This means they can cut out a decent amount of ambient noise. This is nice when listening to music, because it lets me keep the volume lower, and the actual music is just a lot easier to hear. Earbuds that don’t form a seal, like my recently-deceased AirPods, are generally terrible on the SkyTrain, because even the quietest cars are noisy, and the racket forces you to crank the volume and put yourself on course to be as deaf as Pete Townsend.

The different thing I’ve been doing is putting on the headphones and then…reading. By this, I mean, I don’t actually listen to music, I just use the headphones as makeshift ear muffs. It’s great! The headphones are comfortable enough to wear for the entire commute, they don’t block out all sound, so I can still hear loud/alarming noises, but they bring a level of tranquility to an otherwise noisy ride that I find soothing. Sometimes I don’t even read, I just put on the headphones and revel in all sound around me being muffled.

When I arrive at my destination, taking the headphones off feels like emerging back into the real world. It’s not unpleasant, exactly, but it effectively serves to let me know my time in the blissfully quiet cocoon is over.

Maybe I just need a set of cheap earplugs.

Leave a Comment