Last summer my family and I spent two weeks in Europe. We flew into London, then visited Paris, Bern, Switzerland and Munich via train. Exploring Europe by train is a fun experience. And not just if you see London and you see France.
However, making short connections in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language can raise your stress level like that recurring dream about missing your college final exams, while naked, and public speaking.
I’m not Zurich about this.
The most challenging part of our train travel was the leg from Bern to Munich. The issue was that we had to switch trains in Zurich and we only had 10 minutes to do it. We had never been to the station. And we had no idea where our connecting train platform was. I felt like Harry Potter the first time he had to find Platform 9 and 3/4.
To make matters worse, the train we were on was delayed. Which meant that our short 10-minute layover was cut in half. Gulp. We would only have 5 minutes to sprint to our next train in Zurich. But with 5 people hauling 10 overstuffed roller bags and duffles, sprinting does not look like sprinting. It’s more like waddling.
To further elevate our challenge, we were on the upper level of the inbound train and had to haul our massive bags down the train’s tight staircase just to begin the hunt for our next train. Plus, the train was completely packed. And while we were feeling urgent like Lou Gramm of Foreigner, we had to contend with other passengers who exhibited none of our need for speed.
Finally, as our train rolled to a stop at the Zurich train station we each grabbed our 2 bags, plus our backpacks, and clumsily navigated the stairs, trying not to fall or drop our bags on the other passengers. Then we wiggled our way off the train and onto the bustling platform. We hustled towards a monitor where we discovered that our train for Munich was on the other side of the platform we were standing on! It was the best possible scenario!
But now, we had only 3 minutes, and there was a large crowd of people trying to cram onto the train. Because everyone loves Munich. Kinda like Raymond. And bacon.
We got in line and waited for our time to board as the time ticked away. Slowly, we inched our way to the steps, and one by one, all 5 of us and our 10 bags boarded the crowded train car.
However, our progress promptly stopped. We found ourselves just inside the train door with nowhere to move. We had no idea if we were on the right car. We had no idea if we had assigned seats. And we had no idea where to store our 10 big bags because there didn’t appear to be any available space on this overstuffed train.
Then something wonderful happened. The train started to move. We were pulling out of the station. And a big smile spread across my face.
Yes, we were still lost, and confused. We were in a foreign country where we didn’t speak the language or understand the systems and processes. We didn’t know where to sit, where to put our bags, or how to get out of the way of the other passengers.
But we were on the train. And despite the confusion and chaos we were experiencing, we were headed to Munich.
In life getting on the train is the main thing. You can figure out the rest from there. Just get yourself to the starting point. Get to the gym. Start the business. Open the blank document. Pick up the power tool. Land the job. Sit down with the instrument. Show up to the support group meeting. That is the first step. You’ll figure the rest out as you go.
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