I have marked the passages in my life through small yet disconnected body art…and I recently realized that they all symbolize LOSS and REBIRTH:
- The BUTTERFLY I got at 17 = leaving home and starting college in NYC. I was so scared; so sure the city would engulf me that I wished for the courage of that little willful creature! ….
- A NOSE piercing = a way to “adorn” my unacceptable nose, a symbol of my “hated” Mexican‘ness…which for my entire life only showed me how UNbeautiful I was compared to those I saw around me in the small town I grew up in, in Washington State. Only when I moved to NYC, where ethnicity is celebrated did I understand that beauty is multi-ethnic…and no longer “needed” the piercing. ….
- My navel piercing…SADDNESS = I lost a baby once…it was very traumatic…that was for him…”Colt”. ….
- The tribal WAVE on my lower back = the ending of my longest relationship (7 years) which ended in us “growing apart,” and like the “sea” it represents, time for us to move on. ….
- My “hood” piercing = to mark a period of SEXUAL rebirth, after a difficult time in an intimate relationship, it was my way of reclaiming my own sexuality and pleasure. ….
- An INFINITY sign with my wedding date in roman numerals = “unbounding” and what will always be the happiest day of my life…the day I finally allowed myself to believe in FOREVER…a wonderful and healthy fantasy…ephemeral as it is…..
Keep in Mind, they were all small…silly examples of body-art, without a larger artistic intent…
I have always admired people with artistic, bold tattoos and body art. I used to stare at them with fascination wondering: What were they trying to communicate with these symbols on their body? What inspired them? Why would they choose to “mark” their “natural” state in this way? And when I had boyfriends (tatt-less boyfriends) who would say: “That is so gross!” I would disagree, inexplicably drawn to the secret artistic communication these creative people seemed to express through their bodies!….
You know my (**THEN**) husband has beautiful tattoos, a sleeve of them. And he was the first man I was with that had chosen to express such artistic symbolism through his body…and I immediately loved them…tracing them intently with my fingers and lips—licking as I went…They tasted like IMAGINATION…like SOUL and SENSUALITY…amazing! I was Obsessed!….
NOW, perhaps as another reaction to LOSS & REBIRTH, I feel as if I might capture some of that creative expression in myself…that which I had always admired and coveted in others in the past, might actually become part of my FUTURE!….
The Aerial Suspension Rope Performance (for Skin NYC/SexxyMofo in July) represented a turning point in this “process,” I am now involved in.
The performance represented something I had never done before and almost cancelled because I truly thought I could NOT (do it “alone”)…and I yet DID! It was a moment of great personal growth, empowerment and self-acceptance: I am enough, on my own…The next morning, it came to me: my SYMBOL…the Lotus…..
The LOTUS is the big bold sensual flower of Asia that rises out of the dirty mud from the bottom of a pond, SHE rises toward the light, to then unfurl and stretch curved petals, reaching toward the sunlight…water droplets still clinging to her pink-ness—She actually does this daily emulating the sun-moon cycle…The Lotus shows us that PURITY and BEAUTY don’t necessarily come from only the same, but rather can develop from ADVERSITY, DARKNESS…and even from DEATH. ….
*Today, THIS MOMENT is my REBIRTH* ….
This is not unlike my wedding day, when I allowed myself to believe in forever only to be then forced to accept the fragility of that beauty…I have decided that this situation will NOT take that DISCOVERED FAITH in “FOREVER” away from me. I will carry it with me…through the rebirth of my Lotus tattoo…….
MY LOTUS sits in the center of my back, between my shoulder blades…she is about the size of a large outstretched hand and…she GREW FROM 4+ hours of PAIN! Pain which interestingly also had its own “life cycle” and metaphor: ….
- First, stinging pain (hour 1)…but, “I can take it!” ….
- Then as the endorphins kicked in, I developed a heightened sense of the pain and FOUGHT desperately against it, my muscles tensed and my breath came in shortened spurts (hour 2). I thought,” I cannot do this; it is too much, I cannot endure this.” Then, I began CRYING and shaking, feeling…so cold. I could not will myself to stop shivering and immediately knew this had nothing to do with the tattoo, rather this expression of physiological SHOCK was coming from DEEP BELOW THE SKIN. The artist asked if I was okay, I responded that my tears weren’t about the tattoo that I was crying from pain of another sort. He understood, stopped for a moment…and HELD ME…without wiping any of my tears away, and then released me, going on with his work, and leaving me to MY process. I sobbed and sobbed…thinking of all the pain I had fought and tensed up against throughout the last couple weeks, rather than just recognizing the VULNERABLITY & LOSS I felt about my situation. ….
- So…I LET IT GO…I started breathing into the tattoo (hour 3)…I accepted the pain and relaxed into it…almost welcomed it. And it came, it didn’t stop, but it also didn’t hurt quite so much. I had INTEGRATED the displeasure of pain into my experience, in the moment. Accepted it for what it was…breathed it in…Allowed my muscles to relax into it…and I finally found PEACE…true…and complete…amidst the pain…I found peace…beautiful…and I SMILED and TEARS came, this time however they were tears of JOY and ultimate release…I had found my place…my balance…and it wasn’t from running-away or fighting-against the pain…it was from ACCEPTING it right there in the moment…And where the moment had initially given me only SUFFERING, now I accepted the GIFT born from pain…my beautiful Lotus, my symbol of Loss & Rebirth* ….
So I decided to get a tattoo and discovered what years of meditation, therapy, and yoga never gave me: PEACE, amidst the PAIN…through ACCEPTANCE and LOVE…..
Today I was again reminded off this cycle of life upon entering St. John’s The Divine Cathedral…A HUGE gothic cathedral, I entered SEARCHING…I was searching for relief, again…and was immediately overwhelmed by the enormity of the structure itself…this is what inspired awe in it’s parishioners…and I understand now…I felt small…forced to raise my head toward heaven to even take in the vastness of the alter…yet this had the effect of safety: you are not alone, there is something BIGGER than you, protective and complete. I sat in the pew and immediately I prayed…for guidance, for help, to have all my pain taken away…and what I received was the permission to stop fighting, to again ACCEPT and breath…with the understanding that through this process and only through this pain will I again find my place and my PEACE…seems to be a running theme in my life…I SHOULD LISTEN!….
So art imitates life…this time…and I continue to walk with YOU in this journey…of humanity…..