How a train station can help you find your muse
"ALL GREAT DEEDS AND ALL GREAT THOUGHTS HAVE A RIDICULOUS BEGINNING. GREAT WORKS ARE OFTEN BORN ON A STREET CORNER OR IN A RESTAURANT'S REVOLVING DOOR."
Train stations are still out there, doing what they have been doing for us for decades. Next time you are looking for some new creative inspiration, try paying a visit to one and watch as new ideas and insights come to you from the experience.
Train at the station
This past weekend during my lunch break, I decided to go and visit the Amtrak station that I always pass by on my way to work. It was the first time that I actually visited a train station that was still in operation. The old depot in the town where I grew up had been turned into a local history museum a long time ago and I had never before found a reason to visit a running station. Bus stations, Airports, Waysides, yes, but never a train station.
When the time came to write this article, I immediately thought about this Amtrak station. I knew there were trains there, I had been scared halfway off of my bicycle numerous times when they sounded their loud horns and pulled away. I also knew that some people still traveled by rail, having seen them crossing the street with their luggage in tow. I also knew there was a café inside the station, having seen the sign numerous times while waiting at the stop sign. The café was the clincher. I figured I could get some lunch and, with the same stone, knock down some good ideas for this article.
My plan to have my lunch and be creative too was almost a bust when I found out that the commuter cafe accepted cash only and I was forced to find somewhere else to eat. I wound up crossing the pedestrian bridge that spanned the tracks which led to a food court that thankfully took credit cards. As I was crossing, the train pulled in and I watched as the dozens of scattered travelers hurried to the train. As I witnessed this event: the large sleek passenger train shaped like a bullet, the hurrying people, the rushing workers, I imagined that this same scene playing out for decades. Only now it was going on a smaller scale as less and less people choose the train over the freeway or airplane. Now, even in a busy city, the train’s departure was met largely with indifference. Yet, there was still something about the scene that sparked within in me the beginnings of something creative.
Sure, it might have been nice to see a station like this in its prime, when locomotives were the kings of the traveling world, seeing the station for what it was in today’s world was still in itself inspiring. By walking through the station and picking up the sense of history and nostalgia, different ideas and thoughts entered my mind. I remembered all those movies with scenes set in train stations and could see why it was such a symbolic place for both departure and arrival. I thought about old westerns and how things changed when a train pulled in, dropping off a new visitor. I thought about weepy romances and how the departing train symbolized the end of a relationship. I also thought of adventure movies and how the arrival at a busy train station symbolized the start of a new adventure.
Watching the train, the passengers, the people who worked at the station, I found myself facing the world from a new perspective and brimming with new creative ideas. I saw how visiting a train station could help bring out the muse in anyone who happened to be looking for it. For example, a business leader might find new management ideas by sitting in a station and seeing how important time is to the railway system. Or, an artist might find a new idea for a painting from watching the people sitting and waiting for their train to arrive.
Next time you are looking for your muse, why not try taking the time to visit a train station. Watching the trains pull in and out, watching the passengers, thinking about traveling across country over a pair of iron rails; these things will undoubtedly help give you a sense of creative perspective and help you to come up with new ideas and inspirations. Even if the closest station has become a museum or café, going there and having a look around and imagining what it was once like will, most assuredly, help you find new creative direction.