The Big Tattoo

It came to pass. It did not come to stay.

This statement lives on the right side of my torso. It was beautifully painful to get. People with large tattoos in tender spots know what I’m talking about. The experience – it’s a special kind of high.

I got it in the fall of 2011. I was about 18 months into my healing journey. I was still in a place of deep pain, but I was trying new things (like holistic nutrition classes) and reading a lot of Buddhist inspired teachings (like Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha and When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times). I was discovering who I was and what I valued. I was also drawn to toxic people and dark, dramatic situations. There was a whole lot of two steps forward one step back going on.

Forward steps included exploring impermanence – the Buddhist belief that existence is always changing, always evanescent. This brought me much relief. It helped me reframe my suffering. It allowed me to accept that how like joy is not a constant state, neither is anguish.

This tattoo is quite clear in it’s message to myself. That emotional states will change just as the material aspects of life will change. That the people in your life may come and go, live and die. My tattoo is a meditation of sorts on loss that makes me feel grounded to the reality of constant change and experience equanimity no matter what life throws at me.

A Silly Story About This Tattoo

One time I was with some new acquaintances – a couple. I clicked with her, but not so much with him. I think he was not very bright in terms of emotional intelligence or vocabulary. At one point we were talking about tattoos. He said he wanted to get one along the lines of live hard, die young. I mentioned what I had and when he heard about my larger piece he looked puzzled and said he didn’t understand what it meant. His girlfriend explained it to him and then a light went off for him and he said he would get that one too.

I wasn’t impressed before and I certainly wasn’t impressed then.

I bumped into them another time and he told me he got a tattoo saying no regrets.

PS – Here is a lovely post by Leo Babauta (Zen Habits) about impermanence because I have to leave you with some optimism not cynicism.

Intention

Let me start with a little reflection on decluttering…

I started my decluttering in 2011. I think I was ahead of the trend. By a smidge anyway. I had a tonne of boxes to go through because of my separation and move to my solo life apartment. I was depressed and anxious. I wanted to feel better about myself, my stuff and my space. I happened upon the book Magical Housekeeping: Simple Charms and Practical Tips for Creating a Harmonious Home by Tess Whitehurst and used it to clear up my space both physically and emotionally. It might not be the book for everyone, but I learned a lot from that book. It started me on my road to minimalism and simple living.

It also got me shaking maracas I got in Cuba during a solo heart healing vacation and burning sage to move energy around. I love doing both of these things.

There is something to be said about doing things with intention. Doing things with intention makes action more meaningful. It makes change more likely to stick. it sets a foundation and focus on how you want to feel and what actions you need to take to get you there. It helps you get things done, stay present and optimistic.

I think it’s a very powerful thing.

I have a tattoo of the letter I on the inside of my right wrist. It stands for INTENTION.

Resilience

I have four tattoos. Three of which are small. I got them on the same day. They were a part of my healing after the end of my marriage. One of them is the letter R on the inside of my left wrist. It stands for Resilience.

Here are few of my favourite quotes about resilience.

She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails. – Elizabeth Edwards

If all you can do is crawl, start crawling. – Rumi

You drown not by falling in the river, but by staying submerged in it. – Paulo Coehlo