I wanted a tattoo when I was about 19 or so. I imagined it, drew it out on paper, gave way too much mental space to it. My thought was to make a wry comment on the state of existence in my little newbie-at-adulting world. It looked a little like this, kind of, but not exactly. The idea was that the world is unpredictable, chaotic, entropic. That’s how I felt at 19.
As far as entropy… I was on to something, but back then my mindset was less optimistic than it finally grew into. (Too much Nine Inch Nails, perhaps?) The tattoo was to go on the inside of my wrist near all those little bones and on thin skin, a theoretically painful location that seemed to make the whole endeavor a tiny bit “tougher”. Because that’s how I am. If I’m going to do something painful yet common and obviously survivable, why not do it in a way that is even more painful? You know, to show my level of commitment or something. Does that mean I’d make a great Marine?
Over and over again, I decided that getting a tattoo was a really serious deal. Something that I would/could/should/oughtta personally only leap into if I really knew what I wanted. If I knew that I was committing for the long haul. If I was confident in my choice of design and of location and of tattoo artist. And that, my dears, is where things go off the rails. Because, as you can extrapolate:
I never got a tattoo.
Even now, there’s more evidence of stalling in this very piece of writing right here… I started writing a post about my recalcitrance about that tattoo at age 43. I’m now 45 and STILL I am a person who does not make decisions easily. Especially not “hard to take back” decisions. Life-changing, for sure. I can move across the country with ease. I can quit a job that I hate. I can break up with people who are not the people I need to be with (after some delay, but that’s another post).
But get a tattoo??? That shit doesn’t wash off. Even changing cities or jobs or relationships seems less “permanent” than getting a tattoo. So, no, I do not have one.
And that’s not how you make life changes, as I should well know by now. Waiting for the right time, the right image, the right artist, even the right story. But all of that… it’s just stalling and foot dragging and denial.
“Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.” – Doris Lessing
Ask nearly everyone you know with tattoos (even one), and it’s a common story that they do not attach deep personal meaning to their first ink. It was something they just did. It looked neat. They had a spur of the moment urge. Maybe they were drunk. It happens. No. Big. Deal. After the first, maybe they then wanted more. Maybe they wanted some with grandiose meaning. Or not. Maybe they got a few more also for fun, or maybe they stopped. I know quite a few people with just one, from a long time ago and a personality they barely even know anymore. They don’t regret it but they also don’t have a strong urge to continue this “body as canvas” direction.
Is 2020 the year?
Signs point to YES. I’m both more emotionally free from fear of commitment and more enraptured with images that inspire ink. Circles, moon phases, heart expansion, and trees are all on my mind.
Title of this post gleefully stolen/adapted from a play/film you should watch to see dialogue in masterful action: Glengarry Glen Ross, the “coffee is for closers!” scene.