Tattoo accomplished! I feel complete, and at the same time…I suddenly have the desire to get a bunch more tattoos. I just saw a picture of a really cool crow tattoo and I was like “Oooooh…I could have a crow on my right arm.” It’s like that. I’ve heard many people say tattoos are like potato chips…you can’t stop at just one.
But for now I’ll enjoy my artichoke, and be glad that I finally got it done. And, as it turns out, I waited just long enough for it to be perfect timing. Everything that is happening in my life right now enhances that tattoo, gives it more meaning, provides a particular context, and makes it even more special than I thought it would be when I first had the idea to tattoo a flaming heartichoke on my arm many years ago.
That’s just how things go. We always think we know the best timing for certain things, and frequently discover that the universe (or whatever you want to call the infinite stage upon which our lives unfold) has other ideas – often better ideas – about how and when things will unfold. It’s why I’ve never put much stake in making plans and having goals. Instead, I try to pay attention to natural rhythms in my life and focus on a center based on how I feel about life. I mean, to be sure, I make plans and have goals, but I try. I try. I really try to remain open to all of those variables that tend to rearrange those plans and throw a monkeywrench into those goals.
“There is no way to suppress change […] there is only the choice between a way of living that allows constant, if gradual, alterations and a way of living that combines great control and cataclysmic upheavals. Those who panic and bind the trickster choose the latter path. It would be better to learn to play with him, better especially to develop styles (cultural, spiritual, artistic) that allow some commerce with accident, and some acceptance of the changes contingency will always engender. -Lewis Hyde (from Trickster Makes the World: How Disruptive Imagination Creates Culture.)
I have many things in my life that I am thankful for. One of which is an early exposure to Taoism, which has always allowed me to convince my frequently fraught mind that, really, none of this matters. And if I just sit still and wait patiently, a lot of times things just work themselves out. And when they don’t, I have more energy to devote to working them out because I did sit patiently the last time. And when they REALLY don’t, fuck it. In the end, it never mattered anyway.
Bird, age 12, mentioned today that he suddenly didn’t have any idea what life was all about. He said it as though he had known 5 minutes before and lost it. It was one of those moments where I thought maybe I was being called upon to Be Wise. I did my best. I looked to punk rock for the meaning of life, as I frequently do, and told him “Strive to survive, causing the least suffering possible.” I also reminded him that he’s 12, and it’s ok to just enjoy life and maybe not worry about what it means so much right now. But who am I fooling? This is the kid who, at age 2, would walk up to me and ask “Why am I alive inside this body, mom?”
My job as this child’s parent is to learn the lessons he is constantly teaching me, teach them back to him, and try to honor and welcome the trickster when our plans and goals are sidetracked or rerouted.