Abandoned

Even the word is chilling. Abandoned.

There is something about abandoned places which touches us in a very primal way. Often beautiful, sometimes sad and always haunting. Places once inhabited by humans, now left to decay, have always fascinated and intrigued us.

From ancient ruins to the city of Pripyat in the Ukraine, to any local abandoned farm house, the absence of human activity in places meant to contain life has always had an undeniable draw. Crumbling stone, peeling paint and the signs of nature reclaiming the raw materials of construction brings to mind ghosts and spirits of those who may once have inhabited these long lost dwellings.

As sources of inspiration for writing, the solitude and loneliness of abandoned places is an endless bounty. The long neglected Hotel de Salto in Tequendama Falls near Bogota, Columbia brings to mind all manner of deeply rooted fears and anxieties. We can sympathise with these places as if they were almost human. They bring to mind issues of abandonment carried through from infancy. One of our first fears is to be lost, left behind and forgotten. These fears themselves abandoned, until looking upon a structure succumbing to this inevitable this fate, they return to forefront of our minds.

We carry these fears with us all through life into our twilight years. Anything we strive to achieve, any accomplishments we can claim, are at the deepest level, an effort to not be forgotten; to leave a mark when we are gone. Even having children and grandchildren feeds this desire to be remembered.

When I look at Michigan Central Station it is hard not feel a deep sadness that something created with so much care, love and attention has been left neglected to one day fade completely from memory. Like a massive greying corpse slowly losing its life and vitality, this once beautiful, vibrant hub of activity will soon leave nothing but a barely discernible foundation to show that it had once existed.

As a source of inspiration, perhaps these places can live once more, if only briefly, in the stories we tell. Imagination can once again bring them to life in new and unimagined ways from when they were first constructed. If you are a writer look upon this fishing hut slowly being reclaimed by the lake it once sat on the shore of and feel the words start to flow. Feel the echo of warm nights by the fire after a long day fishing. Of laughter and good times shared by friends, lovers and family.

Now, ever so slowly and persistently, time and nature are stealing these things back, turning them to rot and decay. A physical reminder that nothing is permanent. That everything we love, everything we do, everything we are will one day be abandoned despite every effort to avoid this fate. 

Craig Milton on StoryFinds