Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"Please Mind the Gap"

("Please mind the gap between the train and the platform")

Taking the train around the city, the Cantonese made no sense to me, but the British-accented translation always followed: "Please mind the gap..." It echoes still today.

In a foreign land, there is where you are, standing still. There before you is where you need to be, a moving target. In between, there is the gap.

After a day or two navigating the system, the announcement recedes into station's ambient rush hour noise and the gap has long since disappeared.

In my visits, I never did hear screams of people falling through the cracks--perhaps a testament to the unending announcements. Instead, I saw hundreds or thousands of people stepping from the platform onto the train at one station and stepping from the train onto the platform at another station. In time, there was no gap.

How do you get from the platform to the train? When you are on the train, are you no longer on the platform? When you step onto the platform, do you leave the train behind? The family man steps out of apartment and suddenly the office worker is seated at his desk. Where was the gap?

Having an idea that your life could be different? That is a gap. Wondering how to leap forward from your current situation to new circumstances or waiting for your current circumstances to catch up to your desired situation? That is minding the gap. How can you ever cross it?

When I see the all of the others going about their business, I am reminded that it really is much simpler than this. I lose myself in the rush hour flow and now the gap is not even a memory.

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