Midnight Train: Journey of Self
“Just a small-town girl living in a lonely world, she took a midnight train going anywhere.”
According to Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, the journey of a thousand miles begins with step one. It is a phrase that seems particularly relevant during August as we all try to revel in the last bit of summer through vacations, weekend getaways, and overnight trips. For the first time in a long while, I’m not traveling in any significant manner. For the first time in a long while, I am home, be it ever so humble. Yet, despite the fact that I have no plans to venture from the home fires anytime soon, I have been on a journey this summer. It is one that has reminded me that no matter how near or far from the familiar that you roam, the inner journey is the one that has the most impact. Often, it is when we do not have a destination in mind, when we are in a place where acceptance and reliability are a given, that we receive an invitation to embark on a journey that leads to growth in mind, body, or spirit. At the beginning of the summer, as I prepared to head home for an extended period, I found myself inspired by an old 1980’s rock tune that captured the spirit of both the inner and outer journeys, and just how ubiquitous these journeys are in our lives.
The lyrics of the song, “Don’t Stop Believin’, performed by the 1980’s band Journey, and written by group member Jonathan Cain, came to inspire our August photo-editorial in a round-about way. I was reading one of those complimentary hotel newspapers during a recent stay at the Andaz hotel in Savannah, Georgia. The article that captured my attention detailed the story behind the writing of the song. Not being a child of the 80’s, I had heard the song, but never paid much attention to the lyrics. It is a song filled with the pathos of longing for a life that is better than what you have now. We all make these evaluations, even if we want for nothing. The desire to improve isn’t a bad thing. As humans, we feel the need for purpose. That desire to reach a state that, from a distance, looks like perfection is what this song is about. It’s what a life journey is about. But, the song is just a song. Our photo-editorial tries to convey this concept through fashion, but just as the song is just a song, fashion is just fashion. . . except in how these products are created and then shared, the concrete evidence of an inner need to express deeper things. Can a song or fashion adequately reflect inner journeys? Or the deeper meanings that have been gleaned from these journeys? That’s for each individual to decide, but our fashion editorial is our way of using fashion to tell the story of taking the Midnight Train on a ride to the journey of self.
“Streetlights, people, living just to find emotion. Hiding somewhere in the night.”
Dress: Asos, Shoes: Converse
We don’t have to travel to have a journey of the self, although traveling is a great way to inspire and jump-start such journeys. The most profound journeys, however, are often not planned. We can’t know when our perception of the world, our place in it, or of ourselves will shift us into a journey. It is these unexpected journeys that test us, surprise us, and scare us. When we come out on the other side changed, it’s with a new understanding of self.
“A singer in a smoky room a smell of wine and cheap perfume.”
The Jinx, Savannah, GA
Dress: Asos, Shoes: Zara
No one really sees inner journeys. The late nights, the hours spent watching dry educational videos or reading books full of more buzzwords and technical jargon than actual meaningful content. No one sees the self-doubt, the times you want to give up, the victories. They only see the end result – you, a product of experiences and the way you process your life. Humans are constantly evolving. Hopefully forward, but just as often backward. Sometimes you think you’ve overcome something for it to come back again as a new struggle to take on.
“Strangers waiting up and down the boulevard. Their shadows searching in the night.”
The Thunderbird Inn, Savannah, GA
Dress: Asos, Shoes: Forever 21
The midnight train can feel lonely and scary. The road ahead is dark. There are only a few other oddball passengers. You question why you got on that train. Was it the right choice? A waste of the ticket price? You can’t know until you reach the destination, but by the simple act of setting foot on the train, taking the first step, you have are no longer the person you were.
“Some will win, some will lose. Some were born to sing the blues.”
Journeys of self never truly end. After struggling through a rough time, there is often a period of rest and reflection. But then the invitation to ride comes again. No one wants to repeat the process. Often new journeys are met with dread, which then makes the journey harder. Spiritual fortitude and mental toughness are the experience points earned through these hard battles. As time goes on, confidence grows and so does self-assurance and belief. And while it may seem dark during these fights, just remember,
“Don’t stop believing, hold onto that feeling.”
Skirt: Tripp NYC, Top: Forever 21, Jacket: Ark & Co. Hat: Forever 21, Boots: Asos