Where Is Platform 9 3/4?

August 13, 2012

Does it feel like some days you are banging your head against a wall? Maybe other days you don't know where you are or how you ended up there. (On a bad day, you might feel both.)

Some days I feel buffeted and pushed and prodded and shoved. I'm not sure if I'm being herded and should go with the flow, or if I need to push back and hang on and keep trying.

John on a platform for the Zig Zag Railroad, Lithgow, New South Wales, Australia - October 2010

The other day I was thinking about these things and I got a picture of Harry Potter in my mind. He was on his way to Hogwarts for the very first time, standing at the train station looking for Platform 9 3/4. I have to admit, a gazillion little things about Harry Potter's world made a lot more sense after living in Sydney for a while. For instance, I actually stood on train platforms for the first time.

So I got a picture of Harry standing there alone on a busy train platform, with the train on track 9 on one side, and the train on track 10 on the other. Talk about dazed and confused. He didn't know what to do until the family of his soon-to-be-best friend arrived and helped him out.

I feel like that rather a lot. I have an idea of where I want to go, and someone has told me where to begin, but it doesn't always make sense to me. Then someone comes along who figured out the trick and is willing to share. Whew!

But sometimes you can't find the right train because you genuinely aren't on the right platform. Not the right platform for you, even if that other one works for lots of other people. At the Redfern Station in Sydney, most of the trains are right there in front of you when you walk in. But you might not know that if you want to go to Bondi Junction, you need to walk to the other end of the train station and go down the escalator two floors to take a train that is underground part of the time.

Just because your eyes say, “Here are all the trains, right in front of me,” doesn't mean your train is there. Nor does it mean that there isn't a train going to your destination just because it's not with all the other trains.

Just because you don't see Platform 9 3/4 doesn't mean it isn't there.

There is a jumping off place for you. And one for me. Somehow, in a different way for each of us, our train platform will suddenly appear and we'll get past this difficult spot and be on our way once again.

And if you see someone behind you looking around, give them a smile and a nudge and point the way.

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