“Tattoos are a right of passage. They’re a marker of bravery, of maturity, of cultural acceptance. The tattoo represents not only a willingness to accept pain – to endure it – but a need to actively embrace it. Because life is painful – beautiful but painful…….”
― Nicola Barker, The Yips
Today I am scheduled to get my first tattoo. I think it will take me years before I understand what it is or why I must do this. I understand that for some people a tattoo is “just a tattoo”. I respect that. For me however, the decision to get a tattoo is symbolic, and holds a great deal of meaning. I assume the meaning will change as I age, and I think that for that reason it is all the meaningful. At this point I see this tattoo as making visible something that I believe, namely that we carry our stories in our bodies, and that many of those stories can be intimately entwined in beauty and pain. If we swallow that pain and keep it inside it will destroy us, but if we accept it and let it out by making it visible, we can transform it into what we may call “art”. Tattoos are a way to do this. And so, I have chosen to get a tattoo of a tree. I think trees are my favorite symbol for life and death–the intricate nature of how beauty and pain walk so closely together and create this strange thing called life.