Since the statue genocide began almost two years ago, numerous activities that I used to enjoy have been ruined. I used to love exploring Boston and its suburbs, photographing buildings and landmarks. I used to love trains and buses, both as a mode of transit and as a cool thing to learn about and photograph in and of themselves. I used to love sports, particularly the Bruins, and frequently attended their games and practices.
However, now that Boston has become a city without my statue of Christopher Columbus in it, I do not love Boston anymore. I no longer get much pleasure from exploring or photographing it, nor do I really enjoy rooting for Boston’s sports teams. Whenever I think “Boston,” the fact that there is no Christopher Columbus anymore is front and center.
The same concept applies to almost all cities and states in the U.S., and many foreign countries as well. The fact that places do not have the statues and monuments that they are supposed to have, and therefore are ruined, significantly negatively impacts my ability to enjoy my former hobbies and interests.
I have struggled to figure out what to do about this. I have unfollowed some athletes, organizations, and photographers on social media either because they specifically expressed support for anti-statue ideology, or because I found their content to be particularly painful. But I am still following many social media accounts that are related to Boston, photography, public transportation, and/or sports, and seeing posts on these topics causes a variety of different emotions.
Yesterday, I saw a post about the Route 71 and 73 buses that go through Cambridge and Watertown. What is unique about these buses is that they are connected to overhead wires that power them as they make their way through the streets, as opposed to using diesel or gas. Sadly, this past weekend marks the end of these buses’ lives. Due to a major road construction project, they are being taken out of service and will eventually be replaced with more high-tech buses. A train and bus enthusiast that I follow on Instagram took a trip on one of these buses over the weekend and posted photos and videos documenting the journey.
Seeing these images, I thought to myself, “I should have done that!” The old me, in fact, probably would have done that. An old-fashioned bus line is exactly the type of thing that the old me was into. The old me would have wanted to experience that and document it as a part of Boston history. I felt bad that I didn’t ride and document the bus this weekend; I felt that it was something I should do.
But then I had an epiphany. Riding the 71 or 73 bus is something that I would have done in a parallel universe, or an alternate reality. An alternate reality in which the statue genocide hadn’t happened. But unfortunately, the statue genocide did happen. I don’t live in a parallel universe; I live in this one. And in this universe, my priority is defending, honoring, and glorifying the historical figures who are under relentless, brutal attack. Each person has only a finite amount of time and energy, and given the horrific things that happened, my time and energy are best spent celebrating historical figures through art, poetry, and writing.
Thinking about it that way, I am able to find some semblance of peace with regards to the activities that I used to do and the things that I used to be into. These are things that the version of me that exists in a parallel universe would do, but this version of me doesn’t do. Given what happened in this universe, these activities aren’t the most meaningful use of my time and energy.
I don’t mean to imply that the statue genocide was even remotely good in any way, shape, or form, but at least it has narrowed down my interests to a manageable amount. Before, there were so many hobbies and activities that interested me that I was constantly frustrated that I didn’t have enough time and energy to do them all. There was no way I could learn about all the topics that I wanted to learn about, no way I could explore all the places that I wanted to explore, and no way I could attend all the events that I wanted to attend. I lived in a constant state of exhaustion, time pressure, and overwhelm. For a while, the pandemic cut down on the amount of activities that were available, which was hugely beneficial for me (I know that sounds like a weird thing to say about a pandemic, but it’s true). The statue genocide, as horrific, unjust, and immoral as it has been, has given me clarity on my priorities in life, and on which activities are the best uses of my time and energy.
I have gone through an unimaginable amount of pain over the past two years. What happened is not okay, and I will never feel that it is. But slowly, very slowly, I am adjusting to the fact that this version of the universe differs from the version I expected and imagined, and my hobbies and interests differ as well.