Sunday, August 7, 2011

We Walking Shrines

It took me nearly twenty minutes to become like the others. Pen in hand, textbook opened and sprawled across the table while my eyes, desperate for any distraction, glance up each time the library door swings wide. I stare unabashedly and track the movements of every student crossing that drab and utilitarian carpet, until they’re finally lost to some quiet corner of their own. Only then do the others and I turn back, reluctantly, to our research papers and memorizations. I should be chipping away at my mountain of Psych terms, but my mind’s tracing shadows on the floor.

There’s this something someone called “Walking Shrine” towering over me. The thing could, conceivably, be sauntering legs, though I think it looks more like a triangular teepee frame. The lodge poles were ripped and bent by years of prairie wind, charred black in some turbulent episode, now forgotten. The buffalo hide covering for the teepee, too, has long since deteriorated, leaving only tattered remains. Snagged within, almost hidden, are torn strips of multi-colored garments once worn by generations of families who no longer have need of such things.

It’s strange that the burnt and broken down remains now decorating this library appear to lean away from that bright red fire extinguisher hung on a nearby wall. The “Shrine” looks as though if it could, it would step quickly away. I recall being singed by events in my own life. Despite the proximity of alternatives I could have used to avoid misfortune, I, too, stepped willingly away from safety, toward the more thrilling future. Living is all about those choices.

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