After seven and a half years of the same daily commute along the M11 between London and Bishops Stortford, and of seeing it as symbolic of the destructiveness and crushing futility of human existence, Derek Soltan today finally admitted to himself that he quite enjoys the drive.
"It helps that I live in Walthamstow and work in BS," he explained to a friend. "I go against the rest of the commuter flow so it's a clear run all the way. And you know what? I can listen to the radio, I can think my own thoughts, I can whistle a tune - anything I like really. The futility of existence rarely comes to mind at all."
When he first got the job as a product development executive in Bishops Stortford Mr Soltan was concerned by the necessity of the daily commute and mused frequently to friends on the amount of fuel he burned every day and the overwhelming sense of futility that often struck him as he rushed from one place to another and back again. "I would joke that I had all the purpose in life of a yo-yo," he explains. Then he shrugs, "Now? The truth is, it's the most relaxing part of my day, particularly now I have kids."
The awareness of the horrible futility of human existence has been with Mr Soltan since the age of fifteen. "I didn't like to be reminded of it," he remembers. "Now I've kind of got used to it I suppose." But he explains that his commute didn't cease to be symbolic overnight. "The horrible symbolism of it gradually came to me less and less often, and one day I realised I hadn't thought of it for months, and was quite enjoying the journey. It's a big improvement."
It helps, Mr Soltan admits, that his attitude toward global warming, once a matter of grave concern to him, can now be characterised as 'relaxed'. When asked what advice he could offer to other motorway commuters overwhelmed by the futility of their existence or worried about their impact on the planet, he smiled and said, "That's easy: just don't think about it."