“Hey, what does that all mean?!” is a question I’ve been asked far too often. Well, let me put that in context… far too often it’s asked when someone catches a glimpse of one of my tattoos. I usually wiggle my way around the subject, because I like folks to draw their own conclusions.
Every now and then I’ll lay it out for someone who seems genuinely interested, but for the most part I respond with, “Whatever you think it means,” which is an authentic answer.
I’ve yet to come across a representation of a tangible object or visual image that symbolizes something enough for me to want it displayed on my ‘canvas’ permanently. Butterflies, feathers, angels… they do nothing for me. If something of that nature is significant in your life, by all means do your thing.
There have been three occasions thus far on my journey where I’ve deemed it appropriate to add something to my body that will remain until I’m ashes again.
The first time I was 18, living in Buffalo, and it simply says, “Stay Human.” You wouldn’t believe – or maybe you would – how many times I’ve been told how ridiculous that is. “Why would you want that?” “What does that even mean?” “I don’t understand…” …Really? You don’t understand that idea? I guess I’ll break it down in one of the many ways I am able.
I’ll do what I want, you do what you want. I have flaws, vices, lapses in judgement and I understand you do too. I will not berate you for your opinions, or belittle you for your imperfections, so long as you’re not harming anyone in the process.
You are an individual – free to express yourself, be beautiful, articulate, logical or emotional (or an ‘’awkward’’ balance of both), carefree, careful, or any number of possibilities. Never bring yourself to a point where you forget that. In that moment when you’re feeling nothing but pure joy and the urge to dance around when others very well may deem you crazy… go for it. Stand up for causes you believe in, and educate yourself on those you don’t. From there you can take action for change.
There is a whole lot of hate in the world, but an awful lot more good to back it up. If those good folks show love for the fellow good, and work to expose the bad, I think this world could be a better place. Maybe that makes me sound as though I’m living in a dream world… ha, maybe I am.
Tattoo number two came around age 21. At the time it served as a beginning of a new chapter after one that was all too tumultuous. It reads, “One life, one world, one chance.”
Go ahead, make the argument for reincarnation… I’ve heard that one countless times. I really won’t refute it. My beliefs regarding an afterlife (whatever they may be at any particular moment) have little bearing on those words. When I take a look at the phrase on my ribs it prompts action.
If you’re upset about a situation or circumstance, work to make change. Don’t sit idly by while horrible things take place in front of your face. It’s not up to others to make anything happen in your life, it’s up to you. Be the catalyst. Pretty straightforward idea, I think.
My most recent addition was the phrase, “Live for a living.” This idea came from spoken word artist Buddy Wakefield’s piece titled “Pretend.” Look it up on YouTube if it strikes your fancy.
As an individual, find your passion and live it. Don’t let your occupation define who you are. I’m not “Ashley: Staff Writer for The Evening Sun.” I am “Ashley: freethinker, music-lover, solo-dance party enthusiast, lover of anything involving the number seven, and not a fan of bacon.” The actions I take throughout my day are carried out because I have the desire, not because of a preset list of obligations.
I suppose the entire point here – if there even is a point – is that I’ve chosen to add little reminders to my body that assert my self-hood. In case I ever have a moment of weakness I can just step back, take a look at myself, and have that little moment of “Ah, so that’s what it all means.”