“Will that wash off?” – several great aunts
“How much did it hurt?”- dozens of people, with and without tattoos of their own.
The reason we change our bodies is: we know we’ll be changing bodies soon. Better to make a mark on the one you’ve got, while it’s yours. (Always asking, is this really mine?) In the interest of full disclosure, 1. this post was a WordPress prompt (what tattoo would you get?) and 2. I have two tattoos, a dragon on my right forearm and a crow carrying a ribbon on my back. The dragon was a birthday present to myself ten years ago and is finally showing his age; the crow is my animal totem and getting a giant one drawn on my back was a recent decision. It’s covering up another tattoo, of the animal I thought I was for a while, the dragonfly. (If you thought you were a dragonfly, but really you’re a crow, is it clear you used to fly?)
So, impermanence. Lately I’ve been hoping for more of it, as I’m unemployed and broke as I’ve ever been. With a pot to piss in and nothing more: all change is welcome, except losing your pot. Tattoos are impermanent, despite what your parents say, because everything is impermanent. Your whole cellular makeup changes constantly, your hair grows out and starts over (or doesn’t), bones break and mend, muscles tear, and after a certain time, your body dies. Tattoos don’t outlive their owners. Civilization’s great paintings have a length of time to live and then they fall apart, statues crumble and graffiti is washed away. Were I to get another tattoo, I think it would be an abstract design, maybe on my upper arms. Like a yakuza. Ornamentation is a ritual, like baptisms, weddings and funerals. Marks and vows are made, something is exchanged. If you were expecting a coherent essay here, I apologize; I’ve been thinking about impermanence for a few days now but can’t seem to pin anything down…