A couple of weeks ago I was in Christchurch, New Zealand. Yes, I was there just days before the earthquake, but I’m not gonna talk about that in this post. While I was there, I had the urge of getting my first tattoo. If you want to know why, well… I don’t kinda have an answer to that question… :-). I gave it some serious thoughts myself and, after a few days and nights of pondering things out, I decided that I got a (Scorpio shaped, if you really want to know) tattoo, just because I wanted to. Period.
I didn’t have a tattoo before and I knew little about the whole thing. Everything happened really fast. It took roughly two hours, in which I stayed pretty much like a stone on a chair, having my skin sewed with an electric needle which punched me 300 times per second. But I’m very happy with the result. Not only because I got a very nice piece of work, but also because, as always, this new and apparently out of nothing experience, taught me a great deal. If you’re curious what exactly I learned from this, well, just read on :-).
1. Pain Is In Your Head
If you’re a normal person, getting a tattoo hurts. By normal person I mean one with a regular nerve and skin structure. There are people who are not able to sense pain on their skin and for them, getting a tattoo is like brushing their hair. For me, it wasn’t. I’m a normal person and my skin nerves are performing exactly as they should do: informing me of every aggression that might happen, by triggering pain.
The moment I felt the needle on my skin I knew it’s going to be harsh. But I wasn’t prepared for that harsh. After the first minute I had the urge of telling “OK, got it, enough”. After the second minute I had the urge of just running away. And after the first 5 minutes I really wanted to punch the guy. In his face. Repeatedly. Until he’s down. And then kick his face. Repeatedly. Ok, I think you got the idea.
But none of these actions were available at the moment. I just wanted to have my tattoo done and if that meant I had to go through that pain, well, I had to just stay there. So I just stayed there. And started to shift my focus from my pain and the needle that was sewing me to my breathe. I do this all the time when I want to calm down or just take a break and refuel with energy. Inhale. Exhale.
To make a long story short, after the first half an hour I had my pain under control. The tattoo had to be outlined 4 times (it’s a green Scorpio with a red outline, a little bit of a color symbolism there) and one of the outlines had to be filled with color. So it was a lot of hurt. But after detaching myself from it, I was ok. Like really ok. When I got down from the chair, two hours later, with a fantastic green-red Scorpio on my arm, I could barely step. I was really, really sore. But not in pain anymore.
2. You Attract What You Are
This is something that started to happen after the tattoo was made. And I admit I wasn’t prepared for that either. So, in order to explain this, I would have to ask you a little question first: what’s the link between a Malayesian owner of a small malayesian restaurant in Auckland, a Chinese lady operating a shop at Victoria Peak in Hong Kong and yours truly?
Well, the Malayesian owner and the Chinese lady both seen my tattoo and felt compelled to start talking to me. Both Scorpios. And both pretty similar to me. They both admitted it was a very nice piece and they felt quite familiar in engaging in a social interaction with me, despite the racial difference. The link was made at another level.
The tattoo was visible all the time. Why I wasn’t approached by somebody else? A Gemini, perhaps? A Virgo?
My green-red Scorpio was like a lighthouse. It attracted human floating vessels with a familiar signal. “Hey, look, you recognize this? Let’s connect”. A tattoo is a very “in your face” signal. A very big lighthouse. But it was a very precious reminder that we do broadcast signals all the time and those signals are shaping our interactions.
3. You Become What You Say You Are
Or in other words, what you paint yourself as. After I made the tattoo, a subtle reinforcement vibe started to appear. Seeing the Scorpio on my arm all day long made me more aware of it. And of the fact that I am one with it. That I am it. I think it works a bit like visualization.
If you’re constantly in contact with something, you are adapting, you are adjusting, you are eventually becoming one with that something. There is this saying that you are, financially speaking, the average of the first 5 persons you spend most of your time with. And I do tend to believe that.
If you project yourself in a certain context, sooner or later you become one with that context. Either by changing yourself to fit in, or by attracting some favorable circumstances. Fact is, this is really working. I’m not going to say that I’m a better person because I have a green-red Scorpio tattoo on my arm.
But the whole process, getting it, melting it into my daily visual field, well, all of that made me more aware of who I am and how I act in this world.
4. Everything You Do Matter
Or in other words, it has consequences. Sometimes we don’t see them, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there. But a tattoo, a picture that will stay on your body for as long as you’ll have that body is a great reminder that your actions are leaving a trace.
Every time I wash my tattoo – and it doesn’t disappear – I realize that it was my decision. And that I cannot change it now. I cannot change the past or the consequences of my actions. I can only accept them and learn to live with them.
Sometimes we’re trapped into a strange remorse carousel. Especially if we’ve been through some pain, we want to reverse things to “how they used to be before”. Well, this can’t happen. The past is in the past and all we have to work with is in this present moment.
Of course we can change our lives, if we really want to. But we cannot change the consequences of what we already did. We have to work with what we have and make the best out of it.
5. Just Do It!
This is not technically a lesson, but rather a reinforcement. If you really want to do something, do it while you got the chance to. Do it when you want to. Because if you postpone too much, you may lose it entirely.
Just two days after I made my tattoo in Christchurch the whole city collapsed in a huge earthquake. My tattoo parlor may not even be standing. It really makes you think when you see stuff like this.
I think it’s better to proudly wear the traces of your adventures than to slip through life in an endless avoidance dance. I do wear my tattoo with pride and satisfaction.
I just did it. Like a ton of other things I did before and I’m going to do from now on.