In the Interest of Honesty
Posted: 23rd June 2015
It always, always comes back to that same old thing, the reason I started all of this in the beginning: the depression. The all encompassing, inescapable blight I've been saddled with as long as I can remember gave me a sort of affinity for places in ruin because I see them as an externalization of something I struggled with internally for all those years. I could empathize with the strain, the horrible weight of gravity and time that had scarred so many beautiful, well-built places. Being alone in them paradoxically made me feel less alone, finding and going to more gave me something to look forward to pushing through another week for, and challenging my fears in them made me realize that I did have courage when I needed it. They never cured me of myself, but they made things tolerable.
There are so many things that fascinate me about ruins: their past, their present, their future; what they say about who we were, are, and will be; their historical, social, economic, philosophical, metaphoric, and artistic interpretations. I could go on forever. After nearly ten years of running the website, and having had thousands of interesting discussions with more people than I will ever even recall, having made new lifelong friends, and seen more amazing places than I ever thought possible, I've been sort of pleasantly shocked that people connected with them in the same way I did. Maybe not in the exact same way, as everybody has their own reflection that they see in them, but similar enough that what once seemed very strange to me now seems perhaps more common than at times even I'd like to admit. These places are something we can all share and learn from, and that to me is the most valuable aspect of contemplating them. After all, what good is gazing into the face of your own mortality if it doesn't cause you to examine who you are and how you live so that you might better yourself while there still is time? If you cheapen that by reducing it to nothing more than another form of entertainment to be consumed, haven't you lost the essence of what makes these places so important and special? To paraphrase one of my favorite quotes from "In Ruins" author Christopher Woodward, melancholia isn't a merely destination, but rather a journey towards the divine light of transcendence.
The travels, photography, and writing still never fixed things, or made what I've always considered the unfortunately terminal condition of my moods something I didn't constantly have to strategize to stay ahead of. It never made me feel fulfilled or satisfied, it never made me feel less awkward or anxious, it never made me doubt who I am and where I am going any less. It never answered all my questions or made me able to rest not knowing the answers, nor did it give me a sense of some noble purpose in life. I have always worked primarily to survive myself and everything else, because in the end it's always come back to that stifling, unabating hopelessness. Sooner or later, it's got to be addressed directly. The sense of raw honesty in the face of loss and the lack of pretense that I see in these places demand no less. I'm just not sure how. I still don't know where I'm going or how long it will take me to get there. But I am grateful that there are those you of who have chosen to walk along with me this part of the way.
Photograph taken in an abandoned asylum, 2010. Image/text by Matthew Christopher of Abandoned America. If you're interested in more Abandoned America blogs, follow this link. If you enjoy my writing, check out my books: Abandoned America: Dismantling the Dream (Amazon / Barnes & Noble) or Abandoned America: The Age of Consequences (Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Signed copies).
By Gina Kennedy: Thank you again ... I really "get" this.
By Brion K Baker: Thank you!