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Sitting at Life’s Train Station

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It's 5:15 in the morning. You wake up excited with a day of new and amazing possibilities ahead of you. You bounce out of bed and hit the floor running. You jump in the shower, throw down some toast and head out the front door. Knowing that today is the day.

Your heart is racing with anticipation and your mind is cartwheeling through a smorgasbord of possibilities. You get to the train station at ten to six. You walk to the platform and you take your seat. You're very excited.

You're excited because there are so many trains going to so many places and you have so many options. So many choices. And you're most excited because you've been given a magic ticket. A ticket which will take you wherever you want. Literally.

Any place in the world. Wherever you choose. Doesn't make sense, but it doesn't really need to — it's magic. Not logic. Your magic ticket will take you to the place of your dreams. All you've got to do is choose your destination, leave your comfy seat and get on the train of your choice.

And enjoy. Simple enough.

As you sit there waiting, you become acutely aware of your heart beating strongly inside your ribs. Pounding even. Pounding with anticipation of what the day will bring. What might be. What will be. Where the ride might take you. So lucky to be given a magic ticket to anywhere.

It's a cold morning but you're not. Cold that is. You figure that excitement must produce heat. Perhaps.

You look down at your watch and it's six thirty. To your surprise, forty minutes have come and gone and so have eleven trains.

They were going to some really cool places but you figure, "That's okay, there will be heaps more."

"I've got all day," you tell yourself. "I don't want to be hasty."

"What if I got on the first train and then one with a better destination pulled into the station?"

"I gotta be careful."

"Gotta protect my magic ticket… only got one. Don't wanna waste it. How stupid would that be?"

"A magic ticket to anywhere… all I've got to do is make a decision and get on the train of my choice… too easy."

A train rolls into the station. It's going to Germany.

"Hmm… Germany would be nice — great food, beautiful scenery — but maybe the language barrier might be an issue; yeah, that could make it tricky. I'll give Germany a miss."

You stay in your seat. You lean forward and peer down the tracks, excited to see which train might roll in next. So many opportunities, so many amazing destinations. And you're determined to wait for just the right one.

You'll know it when you see it. You don't want to be too impulsive. You know plenty of people who have blown it, because they didn't think things through.

But you… you're a thinker. Yep, you'll wait. And wait. You're like that.

Another train rolls into the station, the doors fly open and happy, excited people pile in. Kids with big smiles abound. You look at the sign on the front; it's going to Disneyland.

"Disneyland! I've always wanted to go to Disneyland." You can't believe your luck. You get up off your seat and you move towards the door of the train. Your heart is beating faster than ever, the eight-year-old inside you is squealing with delight and the hairs on the back of your neck have jumped to attention.

Yep, this is what it's all about. You're three steps from the train when your power-stride turns into an amble. A hesitant amble.

People behind you begin to get grumpy and start bumping into each other. "What are you waiting for?" they reasonably ask.

"Err… I… aah…" you reply pathetically.

You don't know what you're waiting for. After all, the train to Disneyland is only feet away. It dawns on you that perhaps you might be making the wrong choice.

"What if there's no healthy food there? After all, I'm watching my weight," you tell yourself.

"And what if I hurt my back again on one of the rides? It's only just started to feel better since my last treatment." Sensibly, you move back to your seat. You're nothing, if not sensible. Anyway, you're not a kid any more; you'd probably look out of place at Disneyland.

"Yeah, what was I thinking?"

You return to your seat and while your heart is momentarily heavy, you do your best to convince yourself that you've made the right decision. You're almost sure you have. Although the eight-year-old in you thinks you're a boring, predictable, fearful old fart.

"Too many people don't think big picture; I'm a big picture kinda person," you tell yourself.

Some more trains come and go:

Hawaii: "The sun's no good for my fair skin."

Africa: "I read somewhere that hippos kill more people than any other animal?"

Australia: "I might bump into Craig Harper; he makes me feel self-conscious and he's very rude."

Canada: "Too cold — and they speak weird."

Train after train come and go. Opportunity after opportunity; none of them suitable.

"Don't wanna waste my ticket," you keep telling yourself. You look at your watch. It's nearly 6:00 pm. It can't be! You feel physically ill.

You ask the man next to you for the time and he says, "Two minutes before six."

You can feel the blood drain from your face. All of a sudden you have an awareness of the cold. In fact, you're freezing. And miserable. Your fingers hurt. And your toes. Everything hurts. Even your heart. The excitement has been replaced with an overwhelming sense of grief. And panic. Desperation even.

"It can't be six o'clock! I just sat down here," you try and convince yourself. "I can't have wasted that opportunity…"

"Can I?"

You look down at your hand and the magic ticket is gone.

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