Saturday, June 18, 2016

A World Without People

Abandoned paper mill in Pennsylvania. Olympus EM1 with M. Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8, 0.6" at f/5.6.

Days like this I really don't know what to do with myself.

Business is shrinking. I'm okay with that. Jobs are coming in gradually, still largely hindered by less than willing clients fed to me through contracting firms. I'm not worried about the state of the business, it's inevitably going to contract some years, especially with my passive approach to running the business in general. That said, these weekends of available down time... I still don't know how to manage myself outside the scope of relentless work. As a result, I often find myself dwelling for hours at a time, almost as if I'm waiting for a job to magically spring up on a moment's notice. Waiting for this mystical moment's notice labor, the echo chamber of my head analyzes the state of the world and doesn't understand how anything ever got so complex at the surface level.

Last weekend I ventured up to Pennsylvania with some friends to indulge in some urban exploration through old locations. Easy locations. And the immediacy with which I felt impassioned and filled with the vibrancy of life struck noticeably. There is a muse there, in those dank locations replete with hazards and filth, and I miss it greatly. While in the car between locations, I postulated with Rob and Kyle (my cohorts for the day) that the hidden gem of appeal in such environmental submersion is, much as every other hobby taken to dedicated lifestyle and craft, a sort of escapism. And especially amid the calamitous happenings and ensuing battle for narrative control, it is an escapism I feel a desperate, continual need for. The fantasy of a life after people. Where nature does as it will in the slow reclamation of its territory from the brutal impact of man. Where the silence and solitude is, for a change, genuine. Where I can be reminded that, independent of the inanity of man's embattled stance with the world and with itself, things will move on and adapt quite pleasantly in the absence of our influence.

It's obvious and cliche as hell. It's also remarkably easy to forget and lose sight of. And while it can be quite easily stated as a concept, it's a very different experience to immerse oneself in the fantasy, to imagine yourself as a lone observer of that environment put to practice. That while we struggle with concepts of sustainability, of our own survival, our environment, in eternal throes of change, is patiently waiting for our influence to wane in the wake of our hopeless struggle against ourselves. That I could have been born a tree instead of a man - Such a post-humanity world is comfortingly uncomplicated.

I envision a more adaptable species of travelers visiting the remnants of Earth some day long after we've exhausted the potential for our own sustainable existence, lured in by the adorable irony of a millennia old radio transmission of poetry, "My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look on my Work, ye Mighty, and despair". An echo of a bygone sampling of life, on a planet that may very well be but a sand laden mass of rock with no discernible telling that life there had ever even existed.

There is comfort in accepting the ultimate futility of our very being.