Like most Maine workers, I have a fairly long commute to and from work each day. My commute is a 30-minute drive one way. This is likely not as long a commute as other people may have, if they live in more rural parts of the state or drive out of state for their jobs. But I wouldn’t trade my commute for anything.

Yes, it adds an hour to my workday, and there are always other things I could be doing with my time. However, unlike the days when my drive to work included dropping my kids off at day care and listening to their favorite tunes until we got there, I now commute alone.

Occasionally, I may carpool with a co-worker who needs to get a car serviced or doesn’t like to drive in snowy weather, but generally, those blissful 60 minutes are mine – all mine! During that time, I can go over plans for my upcoming workday, listen to the news to learn what happened while I was sleeping or simply focus on my driving. Usually, though, I have a very different routine.

As soon as I start my car at home, I slip in a CD to begin or continue an audiobook I have borrowed from my public or school library. During my daily commute, as I listen to stories, I am transported to faraway times and places. I spend this precious time with shady characters, new friends and uplifting people. I visit the lives of mixed-up, stressed-out families who are struggling to survive or are dealing with the unfortunate blows that life has dealt them. They often find their way and learn a lesson or two while they’re at it. I, too, can learn from their experiences.

Maybe, though, I’m traveling to my job with exciting characters while they pursue their lifelong dreams or achieve whatever’s on their bucket lists. I’m visualizing the places being described or the adventures being taken. Their courage and bold ideas can inspire me to reflect on my own life and motivate me to improve some aspect of it. I’ve been known to leave my house early or arrive at my destination a bit late because I wanted to sit in my car and listen to the end of a chapter or a book.

Libraries are full of choices for great audiobooks to suit my listening needs and moods. Librarians are often successful at directing me to the right book at the right time. My book club friends read a wide variety of genres and authors that I would have overlooked if it weren’t for their monthly book picks. If my library doesn’t have the audiobook I want, it’s easy to go online and request it from another library in Maine that does – and I can receive it just days later.

I’m thrilled that I can multitask and use my commuting time wisely – listening, learning and driving. I wouldn’t have it any other way.