Flapping a prayer
Atop a ladder, he waits for my approval. "Here?" he asks.
"More to the right." I say. He moves the thumbtack in the wrong direction. "To the right!" I say with irritation.
"Do you mean real right or your right?" He asks with equal aggravation.
I have to think for a millisecond. Oh snap! I meant left. Dang.
“Left.” I say sheepishly. He moves the tack. “Perfect.”
This lack of ability to tell right from left has plagued me my whole life. I do know the difference but in the heat of the moment I frequently vocalize incorrectly. So frequently that my husband asks me to point where I want to him to turn when I’m giving out directions. How is it that I never got this weakness addressed? I turn to the window, stare at the house under construction next door. The Tyvek paper is loose, dancing in the wind and my mind dances off with it.
When I was in first grade I was pulled from class to visit a small windowless room with an earnest teacher named Miss Lemony who proclaimed that my speech was broken and she could fix it. My brokenness was the subtle phonetic difference between three and free. Everything to me was free. Since we all know that nothing in this world is free; correcting me was seen as an urgent and imperative undertaking, requiring a visit to Miss Lemony's closet sized room once a week for three years.
Yet, at the same age my dance teacher acknowledged I did not seem to know my right from my left. This was left unattended. I was simply stubborn, refusing to work at the dance routine. I was lazy. It was stated to my mother that maybe dance was not my thing. I wonder how many other paths were misdirected simply because I did not know right from left? Right from wrong? Right from write?
"Hey" he says sharply and I turn to find him off the ladder, waiting for my direction for the next location. It appears he has been waiting a bit. I blink back a lifetime, and point to the spot. I hand him the next in the series, wondering in my head if this endeavor is somehow wrong. In sync, like always, he asks "Do you think this is wrong...to hang these inside...they are supposed to fall apart in the wind. You know, release their prayer and all..."
Yes, I do know. Yet, I do not have the answer. Maybe it comes down to my "right /left/ /wrong" deficiency. I think for a millisecond. I acknowledge that I don’t care if it is wrong. It is just how I want it to be. It is the vibe I want.
"They aren’t really prayer flags. More like emoji flags, really?" I voice, not very convincingly. "They don’t have any words. They are art. Art flags." Yes, I’ve decided. They are art flags. Shaped like prayer flags. But Art. Art Flags.
While he’s moving the ladder again to hang the beautiful White Tara flags, I look out the window again at the house next door. The Tyvek has torn more in this brief time, showing exposed wood and I ponder whether this house was built to last. No. I’m sure it will fall into dust like all things…hopefully, after I have moved on.
We move across the room, debating the location of each flag string before he pins it up.
We’ve hung hand stamped flags of animals in black and white from California. Hand block printed flags of botany from New Mexico. Screen printed flags in bright yellow and orange from New Jersey. All original works produced to be destroyed in the wind, released to the world. They won’t get the opportunity, but looking at the finished hanging, I know it isn’t wrong. It feels welcoming, hinting at the mystery of the greater world. Color and vibrancy with a spiritual nod. I adore it and I can tell he approves as well.
The wind has picked up causing the house film next door to flap loudly. I turn to the window and then laugh, watching a prayer released to the world. I decide it is an alien word meaning peace to all souls. Yes, most assuredly that is what it means.
Tyvek, Tyvek, Tyvek…
SOURCING: prayer flags:
https://www.etsy.com/shop/LovelyWoodsPress (animal wood blocks)
https://www.etsy.com/shop/OnTheWindPrayerFlags (white on black ferns)
https://www.etsy.com/shop/KatWatsonStuff (Raven Flags- not in pic)
https://www.etsy.com/shop/BUDDHADOMA (White Tara)
https://www.etsy.com/shop/Cazmira (yellow peace cranes)