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So It Is Within: An Abandoned America Blog

Posted: 24th August 2012
In: Blog

It's easy to get discouraged.

There are things you were really excited about that never materialized. There are things you are afraid of that inevitably will. Every day can be a challenge, a psychological minefield: how to cope with the horrors on the news, the fear mongering in politics, the letdowns by those you care about, the foolish things you are solely responsible for and can't pass off to anyone else? It's good to be firm and resolute, to look towards new opportunities and away from the ones you missed, but that requires strength. In this case, strength is a constant commitment, an hourly exercise of will - and the pressure never really seems to let up, as the weight just builds and builds and builds. For some people, the ability to stave off depression is in their nature. Either by their innate disposition, or sometimes their very lack of awareness of what is going on around them, they are able to shrug off the effects of what for others becomes an ever-deepening malaise. The effort it takes to avert your eyes from economic numbers and dishonesty and mass murders and all the other things that appear to point to the incontrovertible fact that humanity is so inherently flawed that it can never possibly be redeemed or have any other overall trajectory but a downward one - that effort is made all the more difficult by the fact that some people have no difficulty with it at all. It may feel like you are the one who is weak, and that just adds to the strain. Why can't you just watch TV and eat at a barbeque and go sunbathing on the beach? What is wrong with you?

It isn't an imaginary thing, nor are its effects. Over the years I have watched these shelves loaded with hundreds of pounds of china forms sink through the floor. Each form is much heavier than it looks - I'd estimate at least forty pounds. As water and rot eat away at the wood in the shelves, it's eating away at the floor beneath them also. Maybe one form, or even ten or twenty, wouldn't be a problem, but the dozens and dozens on each shelf - tons of them - are too much. Every time I came back they would have melted further through the supports beneath them, the walkways would be more precarious, and there would be more holes where too much pressure had been applied for too long and the whole thing just fell through. I'm sure I don't have to tell you how much damage that does to the forms, the shelves, the structure of the building itself. I'm also sure that the parallel I am making is not lost on you - as it is without, so it is within.

If you can, if it's safe to do so, I recommend you remove the weights one at a time and don't let them build up. Even though they may seem inconsequential on their own, their cumulative effect is disastrous to your health and your spirit. It's a lot of work - sometimes it seems never-ending, like all life is is a process of removing the weights. Who knows, maybe that's the case. If you stop though, the outcome is clear. Avoid people who make no effort to struggle with the load and instead insist on adding their weight to that which those around them must carry. If it seems like you can't deal with things yourself, start modifying your behavior, cutting back on stressors and finding ways to adapt. It's not easy, it never is. But, if you're like me, it's not just a matter of self-improvement, it's a matter of survival.

'so it is within' taken at Conquistador China. Photograph and text by Matthew Christopher. If you're interested in more Abandoned America blogs, follow this link.


Photo comment By Beth: Thank you.
Photo comment By Fox: This is beautiful, and so is your photography. I love the parallels between your work and the way life can be.
Photo comment By Gretchen: Wow, I get it Matthew. Your chosen vocation might just compound the feelings expressed in this blog. But there is beauty in decay, nothing is permanent. I think of the Buddhist statues that were destroyed by Muslims a few years ago (in Iraq? Afghanistan?) Art historians were horrified, Buddhists just acknowledged the impermanence of it. There's a lot of wisdom to removing stressors one at a time. Baby steps lead to bigger steps

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