The Eternal State of Boredom, so it goes or so it seems, from one bridge to another. It’s those things in between: houses, streets, cricks, parks, people, playgrounds that I wish to ignore. The entirety of these forms shall pass, yet, with any city, there can be said to be an ‘identity’ that’s all its own. It belongs to none of us, yet it has become who we are. This is the Eternal State of Boredom.
Every city has its identity. You can walk down a street in New York and feel the incessant rush of constant motion. If it’s not people moving it’s buses and cars, subways, trains, plains, taxis and people on bikes dragging tourists. They move in a million different directions. Everyone has somewhere to go and, what’s more, after that they have somewhere else to go. It’s constant motion, wanting more, needing more, and moving to sustain a society that would crumble to dust if the inertia ever stopped. I haven’t been to other cities, but they’ve all come up under different circumstances and it’s wrong to assume that every city is the same. Some are developed through ports and trades and find their identity in accepting a different form of culture from those that arise through other means. Others become ‘the party city’, like New Orleans, a place I hold close to my heart. New Orleans is a beautiful city full of all sorts of wild animals. You have rats in all forms. Some come along as ‘street beggars’, who act like musicians or do whatever they must to earn a dollar. I met a man who claimed to be a time-traveler needing a few bucks to fix his machine and get back home. He said he saw the bloody days of the French Revolution, as he went on about the clean precision of the guillotine, which he believed to be well ahead of its time. Now, how could I deny a man like that a single dollar?
Every city possesses an identity that, although it is also subject to change, this is something all its own. No other town can be like New Orleans. They can be similar, but nothing can compare. Can it be said, if I’m proposing an identity for every city, that these same cities can possess their own destiny? We’ve often thought a town to be something different, where people make up its identity and nothing else. If this is true, then what do we make of a town with a destiny? If this is true, we must look at the world in a new light, for what could be said to be the destiny of a town like New Orleans after Hurricane Sandy? While we’re on the subject, what about towns with horrifying scars on their past, like Hiroshima, Auschwitz or… well, how about you guys give me some fun one?
Salem, Massachusetts is a fun one that I’ve actually visited. I enjoy the town, because you can walk around the streets and have all the presence of a normal person walking around a simple, puritan town. It has the feel that nothing has ever happened ever to leave a black mark on their record. If you go down the right corner you can see what is an alleged ‘haunted house’ that belonged to the former mayor during the Salem Witch Trials. For those who don’t know, the Salem Witch Trials were a period of mass hysteria when people were believed to be manipulated by dark forces and thus, had to be tortured. It’s something that none of us would ever want to endure and thinking of that time sends a chill of fear, as you realize that sensible people can be denigrated to monsters with a whim of hysteria and terror. Now, of course, it’s become a show. They use their story to entertain the world, establishing their ‘pirate museum’, as well as their ‘torture museum’, where they show the dungeons that some of the people were kept to stew in their dark powers. It’s all entertainment, yet, during that time, the paranoia and mass hysteria created a far more sinister identity. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salem_witch_trials
As it goes for my city, I can see no destiny. I see what I wish it to be, sure, but as for an identity that the few thousand inhabitants would agree upon, well… it’s something I wouldn’t want to admit. It’s something ugly in, not only its laziness, but its apathy. I call it ‘The Eternal State of Boredom’. I’ve struggled to explain our identity to outsiders. You look in on our city and see a mess. You see nothing and that’s a fair point that comes to define who we are. We’ve nothing to manifest an identity, so we turn to the train. Tracks cut the city in half, yet none of us ever follow them out of here, far away, moving beyond toward a greater destiny than what we’ve been given for so long. If a city has a destiny, does it find it on its own? How does a city possess its own destiny? How do we help our city find where it belongs?
I’ve walked along these same tracks all my life. I’ve seen people and places change, all the while the city remained the same. The Eternal State of Boredom is a product of a mindset that has already given up. We’ve failed to change what we perceive to be of no importance. We’ve ignored the warnings of the world, as our city somehow sustains itself without falling into the abyss of time and impatience. Roanoke is another city with an interesting history. Its people abandoned it or so the story goes. Nobody knows what happened to the ‘lost colony’, although similar fates have come to several cities throughout history. Boom cities came up when gold was abundant in the western states, but when the gold disappeared so did the people. The cities remained. Everyone calls them ‘haunted’ now. Ancient cities had to be abandoned as well, when either their water source became depleted or marauders came and enslaved their people. We act like that can’t happen today, but really, it’s only the technology that’s advanced… and maybe the cities, but not the people.
It’s important to see different worlds before they disappear. For every city an identity. For every city a destiny. If you want, you can walk down South Street or any street, since the train goes through everyone’s backyard and sit and stare at the tracks. They run by at the same time each day, creating so much noise before it all disappears into the crippling nothingness of our culture. The trains are something to see, not exactly New Orleans or New York, but something in the least. A train is a relic of a time when man and technology forged an empire. They’re modern day petroglyphs, marking a city that might have to move on if it’s identity is somehow forgotten. Even worse, if the identity was never there in the first place. We sit in reverence of the trains, skipping stones along our quiet river, sharing a subtle appreciation for this Eternal State of Boredom.