Thoughts on trials and triumphs, and tattoos.
So, you’ve made your choice… you’ve decided on the style, discussed your design with the artist, booked your appointment day…you eagerly await the tattoo day; imagining along the way how your newly decorated skin will look, how it will make you feel. Will it hurt on this spot? How about this one? How will that bit of colour look? What will my Mum think?
The day comes… time for action.
To choose to receive a tattoo is to challenge oneself. For tens of thousands of years, tattoos have been a rite of passage -passing through a challenge that leaves an indelible mark, to become a new version of the self.
The nervous tingle raised by the impending challenge reflects the questions dancing around our brain. No matter how many times we have undergone being tattooed, it is a unique experience each time.
Each time, and particularly the first time, we face up to the fear of the unknown.
Through the making of the tattoo, we create the shared experience created by working together through the mental and physical adventure that is getting tattooed.
We communicate and connect through the hours, the challenges and the joys. On different days, the experience can feel different, and each time we plumb a new depth of the self.
I can sense a lot about how my client is feeling during the tattoo, and we will often engage in deeply tranquil music(of many genres), deep, quiet breathing, and slipping into ‘the zone’ of painless meditative daydreams and intense creative focus. We also share moments of swearing, laughing and gritting of teeth.
The act of creating a tattoo causes a range of sensations to the wearer. If you get deep enough into the challenge, the truly interconnected nature of the body and the mind becomes vivid.
Sometimes time feels suspended. That moment in time; imprinted for mortal time
Through this undertaking, we redefine our boundaries- we realise that we are menatlly strong, or some days we own up to our own vulnerabilities. We explore our limits, physically, visually and mentally.
By exploring this aspect of the self, we often feel a sense of heightened mastery.
In life, we worry much about things outside of our control. The experience of receiving a tattoo is both an exercise in control, and surrender. We do not know exactly how the tattoo will feel, how it will look. We may be apprehensive about these things before we get tattooed.
Once in the chair, we have to surrender to whatever comes next. The funny thing being- it’s more often than not a much easier and pleasant experience than the mild horror that our worried brain had conjured up.
What we can control is our will to do it, and our inner strength to surrender to it. By taking the first step and committing to getting a tattoo, we have willed ourselves a slightly newer version of the self, complete with indelible representation of this.
Maybe tattooing addresses a primal function. We must face our fears to grow stronger, we must triumph over discomfort. We must allow life to bring us challenges, and to know or learn that we have the patience and wisdom within us to overcome, and rise stronger.