I am reclining on a not so comfortable chair, while being voluntarily stabbed with needles for minutes turning into hours turning into forever. Slowly black ink travels under my skin and morphs into beauty, as the paintings of my soul emerge from under the skilled hands of a master of the arts. There is no denying the pain. The exquisite pain of a tattoo coming into being. I listen to the buzz buzz buzz of the needles as every stroke transforms the pain of the journey that got me to this moment in time into glorious art. Every single one of my tattoos is a lesson learned, a story lived, forever part of my soul and now body.
Here’s a little secret. Extraordinary pleasure hides beyond the pain. With every new tattoo, when the needle first pierces my skin I have a moment I can’t believe I am here again. My body remembers and tenses, hits its pain limit instantly and wants nothing more than to bolt. But moving will ruin the art, so I focus on sitting still. I close my eyes and remember to breath. I need to find the zone. After awhile I do and the endorphins take over. My heartbeat slows, my body relaxes. When I open my eyes the world is different. She sparkles deeper, but seems further away at the same time. The pain is ever present, but entwines with the sweet waves of flow.
Slow soulful conversations emerge from the deep. Today the tale of a rebel finds it’s way to the surface. Once upon a time and for a long long time the expectations set by family, friends, strangers and society paved the road of my life. All the ancestors, loads of karmic baggage and collective systemic energy snugly pilled up in the driver’s seat of my car, trying to grab the steering wheel from my hands. I’d go about this business of living, feeling a struggle between all these binds and … something else. Back then I didn’t know the way of things. Now I know that the blueprints of our beings are loaded with invisible shackles influencing our time on this earth. It’s impressive we don’t collapse with the weight of it. Then a lot happened in a short burst of time and I had what we call an awakening. My wild heart started beating. The fog lifted and as the light flowed in I saw the world with a clear mind, fire in my heart and passion in my soul. The shadows deepened as well and a monster fear of not belonging, of not being enough or maybe even being too much came to the surface fast and hard, freezing my motion more often than I care to recall. The call of the wild, once heard, can’t ever be denied though. So I continued wandering this new earth, learning to unfreeze and dance with my shadows when I meet them.
‘These days they call me a rebel’, I say proudly. The wise man with the needle looks up and speaks. ‘When you look at the ones saying that, what do you see? Earthlings embracing the ways of the wild? If so, do they call themselves a rebel? Or do you see humans living in the matrix and pointing out you no longer fit their view of the world, that you oppose their choices, be it with longing in their heart or fear in their minds. To me there is nothing rebellious about choosing a life others might not. To me you are not a non conformist because you choose your heart. You are no rebel. You are you.’ The wise man doesn’t wait for me to figure it out. He just pulls his hoody back over his head and continues stabbing me.
These words traveled with me and years later this is what I got. A rebel is someone who opposes something else. But who decides who is on the opposing side of things? Why is it me and not you? My head hurts if I think on it too much. My wild knows though. This is me. Just more of me than there was before. More colour. More shadow. Living life by the moon and the stars. It doesn’t come easy. Every choice comes with rewards and heartache as I continue to create the roads I want to take. My life may differ from yours, but that doesn’t make me different. Nor do your choices make you different to me.
More hours than I can count pass. My skin is swollen and tender and I’m losing grip on my blissful state. The pain comes crashing in. I don’t know how much longer I can sit still. Then suddenly it’s done. The tattoo gun switches off and it feels like the lights come on with it. I’m sitting in a tattoo studio and my newest ink is carefully tended and wrapped up. I say my goodbyes and walk out the door. Those hours so meaningful, already part of my past. I feel like a new woman and as always with fresh art, for a few heartbeats I step into the world self consciously, feeling strong and vulnerable at the same time, my wild heart for the whole world to see. Once a tattoo is done I never look back. It instantly becomes part of who I am. A closing ceremony of sorts. A celebration of the end of an era, as I open up to what is to come.
It’s addictive this journey of drawing on the outside, what is living on the inside. I had my last ink session over five years ago, before my first pregnancy. My mind tells me it is time to paint my journey of motherhood, the most profound one yet and to honour my sons with indelible art on my body. My wild heart is silent though. Perhaps because I am still living this story… Or perhaps I am ready for a new canvas to draw my quest for love on.