You don't generally "experiment" with getting a tattoo. That's what makes getting one such a badass thing to do. Whether you're rational and level-headed when that needle hits your arm, or whether you're insensibly infatuated with a new romantic partner, drunk off your ass, bitter about some undeserved setback, or just feeling full of life and tired of being so "sensible" all the time, it doesn't matter: you just signed up for a lifelong commitment. (Or an expensive and painful removal process).
Holy crap, right? That's why I've always admired the courage of people with tattoos. Like the fabulously unapologetic Mizfit Carla!
Is it true that I also sometimes feel a little worried for some of those tattooed folks, depending on their particular choices and my level of optimism that day?
I consider myself a rational, even cautious sort of person, yet I've been tempted to get a tattoo for quite a while now. The urge has been growing even stronger in these fraught times, when self-expression feels so vital.
So, what did I recently run out and do?
Yep, there is now ink on my arms.
Not sure why the image is so blurry, it was fine on the camera.
Curse you, OneDrive or Blogger, whichever one of you stole my resolution.
This isn't a sponsored post, so no giveaway, sorry--I just got seduced by a Facebook ad for Conscious Ink. They've got dozens and dozens of designs, many of them with themes of peace, compassion, love, empowerment, and determination. So I figured what the hell.
I've decided my right arm is for "strength and resistance" type themes, because it's my feisty side, the one that would happily get physical and duke it out to fight for justice, if only it wasn't ruled by a rational middle-aged brain that knows hand-to-hand combat rarely solves anything and might necessitate costly emergency room visits.
My left arm is way more mellow, and is more likely to sport messages of peace, loving kindness, compassion, joy, and oneness-with-the-world. It also happens to be the arm that would be way too uncoordinated to be of any assistance should I find myself in a brawl.
I may well get a "real" tattoo someday, perhaps not in the not too distant future. But in the meantime I'm getting a real kick out of having messages written on my body. While also totally appreciating the ability to not have them on there every day for the rest of my life.
Considering a Tattoo? Things to Think About
When I see a young person with a lot of ink, I'm afraid my old fuddy duddy brain can't help but silently ponder: Will those words, those designs, those sentiments continue to inspire you and resonate as decade after decade goes by? If you are 25 years old now, how well do you think you know your 50-year-old self? Your 75-year-old self? Your 90-year-old self? Young people don't always believe in these creatures, but they are not entirely imaginary. One day, if you are lucky, their concerns will become painfully relevant. You may not want to totally piss them off.
(This is the point at which if I were not concerned with getting sued for copyright infringement, or if creative commons had more choices, I'd include a bunch of funny images of regrettable tattoos).
I just know that I am an entirely different person at 56 than I was at 26 or, God forbid, 16. I am SO glad I don't have to live with any choices I might have made back then.
And seriously, I have no idea on earth who the fuck I'll be at 86. It's not that I think that an 86 year-old Crabby won't want a tattoo, she probably will! I'm all for seniors with tattoos and I hope one day to be one.
I just don't know whether 86 year old Crabby would want the tattoo that 56 year old Crabby might choose. Thus my hesitations.
But then I am a poor candidate for a tattoo. (Even though I may get one anyway). So what, in my opinion, makes you a good or poor candidate for permanent ink?
So glad I can pretend you asked!
A Good Candidate for a Tattoo:
- Is relatively consistent throughout life in terms of values, priorities, enthusiasms, and aesthetics; or
- Is really good at rationalization, flexible thinking, letting things go, or outright denial if their choice turns out to have been totally bone-headed; or
- Is totally fine with a really small design in an inconspicuous location; or
- Has a close relationship with a skilled tattoo-removal professional.
A Bad Candidate for a Tattoo:
- Shifts or evolves significantly over time in terms of values, priorities, enthusiasms or aesthetics; or,
- Has a history of impulsive choices with unfortunate results;
- Is a bit of a perfectionist; or
- Is prone to re-thinking decisions that have already been made, and suffering regret; or
- Easily falls prey to doubt or self-consciousness when encountering judgement and criticism (real or imagined) from others; or
- Is totally creeped out by needles.
I know plenty of people who got tattoos decades ago, and for them it was a great decision! They do not have regrets.
I also know people who have some major regrets. I will not speak for them, their reasons vary. But they are bummed they didn't take a little more time making their decision.
The people whom I haven't met yet? The ones who say, in middle or old age: "Damn, I wish I'd gotten a tattoo decades ago!"
Because the people who are now open to getting tattoos who felt too cautious before? They just go get them now, when they have a better sense of themselves and their worlds, and it's twice as cool!
photo: randal schwarz (and maddog)
(And, because they make me smile, here are some more photos of tattooed seniors.)
Do you guys have tattoos? If so, are you still pretty happy with 'em? If you don't, would you ever consider it? Do you think I should go ahead and take the plunge? Or stick to the temporary kind?