I was startled when I heard the train’s single toot. The rail had been clear only moments before when I looked well down the track in both directions prior to returning to photograph the beautiful French cathedral. But now the train’s horn was loud and surprisingly close.
I jumped backward, directly into the path of a bullet train bearing down on me at well over 100 miles per hour and only about two hundred yards away.
At first I could only watch as the engine rocked violently up and down from left to right as it plunged at me. “What a rough ride French engine crews must have,” I thought to myself as I visualized the crew holding tightly to their seats.
Then my other self jumped into my mind, issuing very stern instructions, “Don’t look at the train, George, get off the track!”
As those of you who’ve read my book know, I did. But only barely. I missed certain death by less than a third of a second, by my best estimate.
Today we all find ourselves in a similar situation. What we need to know now is that, while we bicker about “how rough the ride is for the crew,” or “how hard it will be to change the course of the disaster that our species’ success is hurling at us,” or “is this really happening,” all those mental notations only divert our attention from what we must do. And must do NOW.
Stop looking at the train! Get off the track!