I finally did it. I got my first tattoo. It’s been something I’ve wanted to do since I was a teenager. We pierce our ears and wear makeup. We clothe our bodies in things that flatter. We want to look good. Something about that outer appearance thing has always bugged me.
My parents have often referred to my high school days as my “mourning period.” I wasn’t interested in dressing the way other people did. Yes, I wore a lot of black. I didn’t hate the world or go through some horrible “I hate all adults and all humanity” phase. I just didn’t want to dress like everybody else. More than that. I wanted to be defined by something other than the clothes I wore.
Much later I learned a thing or two about first impressions. Sometimes that’s all we get with some people. Mess that up and you might miss out on the job you want or something else you’re looking for because you appear aloof, angry, unkempt, and anything but serious about what you’re going after. There is a game to be played if you want to gain some things in life. Like it or not, it’s true. But a tattoo! It can be hidden if you want it to be, can be peeking out from under a sleeve or a neckline if you want to reveal something about yourself, or exhibited proudly – and it’s something that’s only for you.
I should probably be embarrassed by how many hours I’ve spent watching tattoo shows on TV. I’m fascinated. Being an artist, I have incredible respect for those who bring to life the vision, the emotion, the deep connection for their clients. It is, in many ways, an almost sacred thing. Not Godly sacred as in Holy Communion or Baptism. But life affirming, hope giving, connection with loved one granted. Nothing does that like a tattoo. It is, in a sense, a new life through the pain. A rebirth. It has real significance for many. For others, well, whatever. I can’t speak for them.
For me, it ushered in major changes – a huge shift in thinking about what I wanted the rest of my life to look like. It was an unconscious promise. A gift to myself. It’s my little chickadee sitting watch on my shoulder to see to it that I make good on my promises to myself. Of all the birds at our bird feeders, the chickadee is by far the bravest. It makes me smile – a deep heart smile.
I’m not finished. She needs some flowers surrounding her. And later, who knows what she’ll inspire? I’m just glad she’s there reminding me of someone I owe some hard work, endurance, love, grace, and patience to – myself.