Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Write of Passage - Day 13; Part 2

August 14, 2009: Chamberlain, South Dakota - Joliet, Illinois (746 miles)

“I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.” – Lillian Smith

The Palace today
Cote and I had one of our biggest days of driving ever, today. We logged well over 700 miles, cutting east across the midwest. We made one mini-stop in Mitchell, South Dakota around 10:00 a.m., to check out the great Corn Palace, a unique landmark which over-time seems to have put this town on the map. Thirty years ago, I had my first visit here. Along with my mom, my dad and one older brother. Once again, the passage of time has altered the pictures I had stored away in my memory. Back then, I remember this building being the only thing in sight as I stood in awe before it. (Or at least, it was all I could see from my child-size view.) I remember how it seemed to sit in the middle of nowhere, popped right up out of the ground, huge and monstrous. "Palace" was right! "Palace" was fitting! And the fact that it was totally constructed out of corn, was just too mind-boggling for my 12-year-old brain to handle.
The Palace in 1978
Today, I found the building still impressive, but not nearly as much. The under-
taking to create such a carousel of corn murals deserved our time and attention, though. The "paint-by-number" pictures were cast by using 13 shades of corn, and other "cropped" material, and every year the building sprouts a new theme, a never-before shucked and shingled showcase of corn-fed art. As Cote and I looked over this year's canvases, it was hard to imagine the time and energy it took to construct such "paintings," one by one......only to have them dismantled, re-designed and replaced with a whole new set of kerneled-collages at the end of every twelve months. The whole concept seemed a little bit crazy and a tad bit sad. But I tipped my hat to their dedication and commitment.
This year, the Corn Palace committee seemed to have chosen a theme tailored-made just for us.......America's Destinations! The scenes were vibrant and detailed, and of course included both Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse. We did one walk-through inside the building, bought a few gifts, and then wandered around its perimeter. We collected some stray kernels and bits of husks we found caught in the cracks on the sidewalk outside. Cote and I would later add these to our journals, our "write of passages" we'd been working on since we left home. Overall, we enjoyed our little detour to discover Mitchell, South Dakota's very own "Field of Dreams." They had built it, and we had come. Was it corny? Yes. Absolutely. But, it was also so very......a-maize-ing!

The rest of our day was spent in quiet driving. I was surprised to discover just how far away from Chicago we really were. Cote and I drove and drove, and yet the Windy City remained just beyond our grasp, always still farther down the road. When we left Mitchell, we jumped easily back onto Interstate 90 East, and soon crossed the border into Minnesota. A little over half way through the state, we came upon 35 South, and took this expressway to drop back down into Iowa. When we reached DesMoines, we turned east again, taking I-80, and for the first time since we left home, Cote and I found ourselves back on the same road that originally led us West. How strange it was to pass through this land again. To see it from a different perspective. To live it from another angle. As much as we didn't want to re-trace any of our steps during our entire two-week rite of passage, taking I-80 made the most sense today, being that our goal was to get as close to Chicago as possible by nightfall. But as we drove through the same vast cornfields and green, grassy landscapes, Cote and I realized it didn't matter that we'd come this way before. The scenery was the same, but we weren't. The two of us had grown over the past two weeks, we'd been changed by both our experiences and our discoveries. We were bolder in some ways, less afraid in others, and more certain of who we were and where we were going. There was a new confidence about us.......or maybe "new" for Cote and kind of "renewed" for me. The giddiness that had filled the air inside our vehicle back when we first set our sights west, had now been replaced with a quieter sense of reflection, respect, and remembrance. The landscape surrounding us may have been the same, but the two people driving through it would never be again.
Isn't this true for all of us? Can anyone really claim to be the exact same person he or she was just two weeks ago? Or even just yesterday for that matter? The roads we take in life change us every day. There are times we find ourselves speeding way too fast on the smooth, sleek highways, and other times when dirt roads have us slowed down to a mind-crazy crawl. Both routes have their drawbacks......pits, potholes, dust, and flying bugs that smash against our exteriors. But both have their beauty and blessings as well. Renewing rains often come and wash us clean, while brilliant rays of sunshine will warm us through the windows of our souls. The roads in life dent, they scar, they expand, and they define us. There are days when they push us beyond our limits, and days when we're simply stuck for a time along a lonely stretch of highway. But the journey never stops. The roads of life continue to beckon us, they turn and twist, and point the way towards new and exciting destinations......those places on the horizon where all our hopes and dreams and aspirations lie. We choose our roads, every day, marking miles and making memories. And when the time is right, if we're careful and patient and paying attention, we can turn and take that one specific road which will lead us back home again. 
The stuff life can throw at us...
Conceivably Cote and I could have made it all the way home tonight. By the time we stopped in Juliet, we were only 4 hours from our front doorstep, 4 hours from the arms of our loved ones. But it was late, almost 9:00 p.m. To surprise our family and force them to celebrate our homecoming at 1:00 in the morning, didn't seem fair to them or right for us. So Cote and I found one final roadside motel, and pulled in for the night. We decided to savor our few remaining hours together, quietly, and mindfully. There was a hint of sadness in the air of our small room, as we huddled together and watched a video clip of our trip that I had made on my laptop. Cote and I relived our fourteen days of adventure through pictures pasted together and set to music. I had chosen the same songs that had played across our radio waves for the past two weeks, lyrics that had somehow captured the feelings we'd had while on the open road. By midnight, we finally gave in to the sleep that had been pulling on us for the past three hours. We sank softly into our covers and softly into the knowledge that with the dawning of tomorrow, our rite of passage would come to its end. 
Yet we were filled with a peace in knowing a lifetime of miles still remained stretched out before us,  far and wide and unknown.....

1 comment:

  1. i love your corn puns in the beginning haha and a very good message at the end :)


Powerful Words

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable. ~Kahlil Gibran