I’ll Develop Meaning Later.

This weekend, I got into a discussion with my friends about tattoos. Some of the people in the conversation had one, some wanted one, and some said the ever famous line; “I would get one, but I don’t have anything in my life that I would make permanent.”

I had to agree with them. I like the idea of tattoos in most cases (except for the ones that drive people to have to get cover ups on one of my favorite shows – Tattoo Nightmares), but I always wonder how people bring themselves to permanently alter their body with a symbol, word, or portrait of their dog.

As we talked about tattoos and what we would get, I mentioned that I had been toying with the idea to get a small one in white ink, so that it’s not incredibly obtrusive or be a hindrance to me in the future. My friend asked, “what would you get?” I didn’t have an answer. I knew that I wanted to somehow encapsulate the efforts I’ve made to change the way I live my life, but how (and where) would I be able to symbolize that in a tattoo?

A friend said to me that some tattoos don’t need to have a meaning right away; that they can develop over time. I guess it’s possible, but for me, I want it to actually mean something and (maybe) grow from there. I thought more and more about it, and reflected on a reading that I’ve heard in temple each year since I was little:

A blank canvas lay in the center of a park, surrounded by supplies. Someone took her brush and speckled the canvas yellow. A boy opened the green, took off his shoes, and skipped footprints from one end of the picture to the other. A man, out for a walk, couldn’t resist plunging his hands into the can of brilliant blue and smeared his name diagonally across the image. The woman, who had been watching, took a thick red marker and drew a frame around the work of the others.

What is your picture, and why did you paint it that way?

Every year, I flip through the service to make sure that this story is still a part of it. I’ve realized that this small reading has had a different meaning for me personally ever since I heard it the first time. It’s allowed me to reflect on my past as well as my future.

I’m not running off to the tattoo parlor tomorrow or anything like that, but it’s something to think about!

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