The Kindness Tattoo

By: Tenley

The thing that scares me most about tattoos is the permanence of them. The sharpness of the needle is nothing compared to the potential lifelong regret. A tattoo is a sort of marriage between you and your ink.  But how can you be certain you will always feel inspired by the words you’ve chosen decades from this moment? Can you promise that very picture will forever be significant to your being? How can we guarantee that it will not only grow with us but that is will remain beautiful and meaningful throughout our existence?

When I watch TV shows that educate on the art of tattooing I find that most people find tattoos necessary or most meaningful when life throws them a curveball or the first page of a new life chapter turns. People feel the need for some sort of ceremonial marking during these stages-- Something that reminds them of better times, their hidden strength, or of their own extraordinary identity. Tattoos brand us for eternity.

I’ve been thinking about this idea of tattoos as ceremonial markings for a while now. I am leaving my home of six years for a new adventure in a few weeks and it has already been a test of my faith and patience. As I was driving home from work today, after saying some tough goodbyes, I thought, perhaps, my life has been marked by these soon-to-be-fleeting experiences, sort of like a tattoo would mark our bodies. I understand this isn’t a new idea, but it is still a valid one. I know these past few years will remain with me as I move on, change, and develop into the adult version of myself. However, I also believe that EVERY experience and interaction I’ve had is also tattooed deep within me--- the good, the bad, the ugly, the unexpected, and the unexpectedly beautiful. Every bit of these connections and experiences is now a word, phrase, image, or memory forever within my being. It’s now part of my identity. I can’t erase or wash away the bits I’m not proud to own. I can only learn from them.

If this notion of ‘life-tattoos’ is true, and I believe it is, then isn’t every connection we’ve ever made also permanent? If our life experiences become a branding upon ourselves, are aware that we are also partially responsible for the end result? We make choices and develop relationships every day. Are we consistently making decisions and assumptions we want to live with forever? How can we know with certainty that our relationships and interactions will evolve with us? Will our friendships strengthen or dull and stretch? Do our ‘life-tattoos’ enhance us and make us feel like owners and artists or do they only bring regret? Now, imagine once that these instances are actually physical and visible. Would we proudly show them off or would we be ashamed? If every interaction were permanently marked on our skin would it change the way we treat each other? Would we be kinder or gentler?

I’d like to believe that humans could choose to be creatures of kindness. And I choose to believe that there is good in humanity if we just look a little closer. The world can be ugly and filled with regret. The world is scary. But if the real world is going to tattoo my heart with experience, then I choose to live with vibrancy. I choose to own my actions and in knowing that I am the owner of my actions try my hardest to be aware and conscience of how they also affect others. I choose to share beauty-the inward and most important kind. The kind of beauty we all deserve. And I ask for patience from my fellow humans as I practice and occasionally falter with this act.

Let our experiences, like a tattoo, remind us of the good times, of our strength, and of our certain uniqueness. Let’s be kind to each other, grow with other, and forget our judgments. As Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Be brave, darlings. And be kind.

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Oh, hello!
We're Sarah and Kaitlyn, roommates from Milwaukee who started this blog to promote creativity and life.
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