Albuquerque is where ambition goes to die.
If you haven’t seen it in full force, you’ve seen hints of it.
“The Land of Mañana” speaks to the basic human weaknesses in it all– lackadaisical and whimsy seeps in and takes deep root as a motif of easy living. Stand at home. Smoke weed. Don’t care about anything. No need to follow through with promises or effort. Somebody else would have have flaked anyhow. Work just enough. The easier, the best. Lulled into a sense of entitlement and lethargy by low costs of living and an environment thick with people just the same.
It’s commonplace complacency.
So where does it begin? The question of causation, the chicken-and-egg logic, is never far from my mind. Does the inactivity come from living here? Or do you move here to become inactive?
I’ve often visualized Albuquerque as the basin at the bottom of Route 66 where things and people tumble steadily into simply by relaxing and following the soft gravity. UNM is the cheap and central Mecca of New Mexico– all the smaller towns of the state filter their children into a great anarchy of apathy under the guise of education. The uncaring beast accepts them easily, letting them flounder while six or seven years pass without notice. Once it’s over, the pomp and purposelessness of their education fades, leaving the squandered despondents to sit and forget in the laps of their lives and if nothing had truly happened. Many can’t even bring themselves to finish the middling tasks, becoming a new generation and legacy of American dropouts.
Our river valley lets others tumble into its depths. Low-cost living keeps even the most exorbitant ceilings low for those who migrate to the city with their Texas or California wealth. Even as the city’s poverty or disenfranchised collect and amass at places for mental illness or the APD to clear them out, so too does the conspicuous conception in the Heights or North Valley by people who just don’t care anymore.
Artistry seems effected by this. A small music scene, fueled by the few bands that come together and separate with the only such regularity that can be counted on. Gazing over the bios of community theatre actors reveal expensive or prestigious educations but yielding performances only worthy of the desert lull that sprouts like the coarse weeds after a monsoon. The embarrassment of the UNM Film Program spits out students versed in pretentious theory and distended egos in what effectively amounts as a degree in watching movies.
Maybe you were born here. Maybe you’ve made it here by mistake. Maybe you’re so new, you just don’t know the mistake you’ve made yet. Maybe you tried your hand at one art or another in bigger, more romantic places, only to ultimately slip back down to our basin. Albuquerque is like a safety net, one of low expectations and the comfort of universal indifference. If you return, don’t expect fanfare — only an assurance against effort. You know, “Happiness.”
The path of least resistance is one of inertia. It’s paralysis through indecision, it’s death come early, it doesn’t have to be this way.
If any part of you still cares, harness that. Get out. Get out while you can.