I’ve never believed in fate. We live the life that we do based on our experiences within our environment. The choices we make, right or wrong, guide us through life, connecting our past with our present, pointing us in the direction of our future, but that’s where it ends. Our future isn’t set. It’s an unknown. There are no leading lines showing us where to go next. We stand, looking out toward the abyss, filtering millions of decisions, hoping that the lessons we learned from our friends and family were close enough to the truth. It’s exciting to think about all the possibilities that lie ahead.
Beautiful eastern european architecture dots the shore of the Mediterranean near the town of Split, Croatia. Down by the waterfront the fisherman load their boats in the early morning light, while bells clang back and forth, making their presence known to all. The smell of fish was thick as I worked my way down the shoreline. After a while I ventured into a part of town that was less glamorous, a blight on the land. Large unfinished hotels lined the road. Their concrete pillars conflicting against the calming seascape behind them. The angles, sharp; The colors, drab. No life existed except for the few plants that had broken through the foundation on their quest for sunlight.
I crawled through a hole in the fence and wandered deeper into the structure. walking down dark hallways, passing dark rooms. Visions of me being stabbed flashed through my head. I picked my pace up a bit, while simultaneously rehearsed how I would choke out my attacker. As I exited the corridor, I entered a larger room, and all thoughts passed from my mind. It was amazing. Sunlight burst through small circular holes near the ceiling. The roof itself emanated light down toward me, cautiously lighting the surrounding area. I paused for a moment to take in the scene. After a while, the foreboding feeling returned and I left in search of sunlight.
Banja Luka, Bosnia - The metallic chime of church bells echoed through the city. A handful of people milled about, some taking photos, while others sat on benches chatting with friends. Throughout the afternoon, churchgoers would meander in and out of the giant building dominating the surrounding landscape. As the afternoon turned to evening, a sliver of light moved slowly across the square, off the bricks, and up the stairs, fading as the sun disappeared. Before the sun left completely, the congregation made their way outside and off to their homes. Here, a straggler makes his way across the square.
In Vientiane, the capital city of Laos, a structure that looks coincidentally like the Arc D'Triumph in Paris looms over a bustling square. As you approach the massive structure, you realize that it is in fact a replica of the one in Paris, except with a little Asian flare.
Back during the cold war, The U.S. Government gave Laos massive amounts of concrete to make another runway at their airport . Instead of making a runway, they decided to make the replica (ballin!).
Wandering up the stairs, past all the merchants selling souvenirs, I passed a young boy, sitting in a red plastic chair. He seemed bored, as if his youthful adolescence was being squandered. His father, close by selling trinkets, loudly beckoned to me to purchase some wares. I smiled kindly and declined, interested more in the suffering taking place nearby.
I chuckled as I shot the photo, amused by the irony of being bored while sitting in a giant replica of the Arc D'Triumph in Vientiane, Laos.
An uneasy feeling runs through the city like a thick fog. People waiting, not knowing, with no understanding of the future, or what it holds. They sit in their coffee shops, shielded by the glass as they look out in to the unkown, purposefully unaware of the struggle outside. Behind the façade of pristine waterfalls, and lush grassy fields lies a problem that nobody cares to see: A cave of uncertainty. Dark and lonely are the people inside.
Clouds fill the skies overhead as I walk down barren streets, peering down alleys and around corners, looking for any sign of life. I stand on the leeward side of a concrete column, a relic of a dying industry. The arctic breeze permeates the city, ever present and always near, chilling to the core. It's inescapable.
The sun rises further in the sky. City life quietly moves unseen around me. The hum of distant traffic is an undertone while melodic birds sit on the wires above. Occasionally the sound of conversation will float by; but it's rarely locatable, always somewhere off in the distance, as if just around the corner; a whisper on the wind.
I start to notice people scurrying around like rats in a maze, avoiding the bitter-cold wind outside. The empty streets become a canvas for life. I wait patiently for someone to walk by. My face and hands go numb from the cold. From down the street, a young man walks briskly uphill toward a nondescript building. Walking with intent, he passes in front of me. A brushstroke. One moment in time captured. His feelings and emotions are immortalized.
Spring is closing in. Walking further from the ocean, I notice that the beautiful architecture no longer towers above. Instead, drab government housing becomes commonplace. Garbage is littered about in the nooks and crevices of the city. Graffiti is plastered high up the walls of apartments.
Tucked in between worn houses, hidden from the wind, children line up along a wall as they listen to music and smoke cigarettes. Corrugated metal bounces the sun's rays as they bask in the afternoon light. Their talk is light hearted, youthful, but it inevitably shifts and the mood changes. Their park is going to be demolished and replaced with a senior citizen's center, one boy says. Sullen looks sweep across their faces. They quietly soak up their memories, taking in the sights; the street art, the trees, the shade, the anxiety of a youth struggling to make a place in the world.