The first time I thought about getting a tattoo was in college…it was 1996 and I pledged Kappa Alpha Psi. High on life and Ego, I wanted to do everything I could to fit in. I bought the right clothes, went to the right functions– I lived the typical ‘fraternity boy’ life for a while there. But unlike everyone else in my chapter I could not get a brand and I could not get a tattoo. Dang Keloid skin.
The desire for a tattoo has stayed with me all these years, creeping up every now and then with tempting ideas of what would be “cool” or “functional.” Sometimes I play around with the thought, doing research every 3-4 years to see if science has found a way to safely tattoo easily scarred skin. But I always come up short, met with the same warning: “at your own risk.”
This is an odd place for me…to want something that I can never have. Not that I get everything I desire, that’s not true by a long shot. But desire plus effort — sometimes great, sometimes small — almost always produces results. And when it does not, I’m able to reconcile within the knowledge that the effort required to achieve said desire is beyond what I am willing to give. No sweat off my back if I don’t want it bad enough.
But this is different. I can not change my skin condition, or put in effort to make the art of tattooing safer (I guess technically I can, but let’s be reasonable here). So it’s just out there…a dangling desire…something I have to sit with and be ok about not having.
Such a beautiful lesson.
Of all of these desires that rise and fall within the body-mind-intellect, this is the one that affords me the opportunity to practice detached awareness. I notice how the urge only comes up when I’m thinking of someone else’s body art. I notice the dishonest feeling of incompleteness that arises. I notice the comparisons I make between my current self and who I “would be” if I meet this desire. I notice the judgments I make about those who have. I notice how I fantasize about conversations I’d have about it. I notice the stories I tell myself about what it means to be ‘inked.’
Then I notice how these thoughts are happening all of the time with a hundred other desires per minute.
Then I breathe.
And for a moment I’m my Self again.
This is dancing…allowing Life to reveal itself to you through your situation. The way you are made is directly related to your Path. There is nothing insignificant about your body, or your temperament, or your fascination with the smallest things. It’s all there for your evolution as well as your amusement….