Driving a train is very easy. Switching tracks is hard.
ï»¿ï»¿When I lived in Texas a few years ago, I would wake up in the middle of the night to the distant sound of a train whistle as it passed me on the tracks near the house. I found it soothing, and I would fall back asleep, quickly. Now I have them by my house here in Montreal, too. It’s like I’m following them.
If a train is already in motion, there isn’t much you need to do. But switching tracks requires organization, timing, and a little bit of vision. Most people don’t see the switches coming, but that’s ok as long as the track continues.
Most people’s careers are like railroads. Choosing a track is the hard part, but from then on, the next step forward is a very easy thing to do. All of this remains true until you have to change tracks. Then, suddenly, we have no clue what we’re supposed to be doing or how we’d start. We feel kind of stupid, again, the way we did when we started on this track a little while ago. We feel like we’re trying to learn to swim or walk– mostly flailing, with very little understanding of how to stabilize. A lot of wishful thinking goes on where we think “We’ll be fine.”
The interesting part about this is that you have to be at a crossroads yourself, just watching, to see a train switch tracks effectively. You have to go out of your way, travel a bit, in order to see it. Otherwise all you see is this perfect movement, trains gliding along towards their destinations, effortlessly.
But the switching does happen. I know it does, and it has to. So I don’t worry too much about how perfect they seem.