Peace in Entrapment
If you’re a native of New Mexico, chances are that you’ve both heard and felt the iconic phrase “The Land of Entrapment”. For various reasons, a good number of New Mexico natives tend to feel trapped by their surroundings. New Mexico is in a bubble of its own in regards to the greater United States. We have our own culture and customs, time frames and dialect. To “escape” sometimes seems impossible. There is some truth to it, but there’s a chance that the need for escape is the wrong mentality.
As for myself, I was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I’ve had the privilege of traveling to several countries and briefly lived in Southern California. Maybe it was the exposure to the outside world and possibilities that live beyond the limits of the Duke City, but I have felt so deeply the Entrapment mentality. For longer than I care to admit, I’ve longed to leave this place and give my family a safer home and a brighter future. All that said, I also believe that this is a problem less localized than we’d like to believe. There are thousands of films, novels, and songs about a small town girl with dreams of making it in Hollywood. There’s nothing unique about our desire for something more. We all desire something greater than what we know. Before I descend into that rabbit hole into the world of potential and dream chasing, there is something to be said about our mentality and the way we allow ourselves to perceive our surroundings. I’m not saying that we can influence our crime statistics by our thought patterns, but on the other hand, when we constantly refer to our state as a dystopian wasteland filled with violent crimes, trafficking, and abuse, we give way and leniency to a mentality that it’s all about us. We do what we have to in order to survive. Dog eat Dog, man murder man. It becomes justifiable when we allow our thoughts to live in darkness.
We all have a choice when it comes to perception. We can look to the bad (and there is always plenty to look to) or we can look to the good and the coming greatness. Over the past few years, there has been a significant rise in start-ups and accelerators for small businesses in Albuquerque. Unemployment rates in Albuquerque have dropped dramatically since 2010. Forbes Magazine has recognized Albuquerque as the 6th best place for business and careers. And employment opportunities will become even greater with Netflix and Facebook setting up shop. When an economy thrives, so do its people. There is hope for this city. Albuquerque is in fact on the rise.
Truthfully, I understand that statistics will only take you so far. Especially if you’re not personally experiencing the economic success that seems to be impacting everybody but you. To my previous point, it all comes down to how you choose to see the world. A few years ago, I found myself again in the middle of one of my fits of discontentment and disgust for our city. The crime, lack of financial success, and the time spent at a job that wasn’t meeting what I felt was worthy of my time were all pitted against me in an attempt to drown me in sadness. Something sprang to mind in the midst of it all. “I’m here. So what am I going to do about it.” We can’t always change our circumstances, but we can choose how we react toward them. “We are here” became an unrealized mantra for me. Every time I felt the pressure of the lack of control, I heard that phrase in my head and felt it driving me to look past what I couldn’t change and look to what I could. I can’t change Albuquerque as a whole, but I can change it for my family. I can make decisions that will be better for us and not treat the land as if it were Gotham City and Batman has been dead for 12 years (I can’t claim credit for that comparison. I saw it in a meme on Facebook).
I remember listening to a friend of mine greet someone from out of town. He told him “Welcome to Albuquerque, where Hustle Comes to Die”. For anybody who knows the city, they know this phase to be more than a passing joke. Many people know the phrase “the land of mañana” for a reason.
Albuquerque is currently ranked #11 by USA Today in their most dangerous cities in America out of the 19,354 “incorporated places” in the US. Breaking Bad wasn’t just a crazy series for me. It felt like a professional reenactment of our local news. There’s no denying that Albuquerque is not the ideal place to raise a family. To look past that and make that claim would be ignorant and dangerous. To live in Albuquerque, you have to know it and how to succeed in it. If you don’t know the latter, you’ll find yourself in survival mode for the rest of your stay. Our city needs people who care about it and want to see it succeed. It needs people who are willing to acknowledge its problems and choose to make a difference.
The reality is that Albuquerque is a dangerous place, but it’s also on the rise. If you’re here with no plans to leave, ask yourself what you can do to make a difference. The opportunity is ripe. What will you give to see this land succeed?
“Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.” W.B. Yeats