A week before hand, I knew I wanted a camera sketch. About three days before hand, I knew I wanted a camera mode dial on the inside of my left arm. The day of, I had no freaking clue which tattoo I wanted to get. Fortunately, I had been thinking of ideas for at least two years so I knew I would like whichever one I actually picked - it was just a matter of actually picking one, and since I'm terribly indecisive about what meal I want to eat, it was really hard to decide which permanent tattoo I would get.
In the hours before my tattoo appointment, I kept going over all of my ideas. I realized I needed to pick which thing meant the most to me now. Photography definitely means a lot to me - it reminds me to look for beauty - to remember that life is beautiful. But that's not what I wanted right now.
I've always looked at tattoos as a way of remembering and reminding. I always knew I wanted a tattoo that would remind me of what I wanted to be. I had considered a verse from Isaiah 58, "Pour yourself out for the hungry." I strongly considered a line from a W.H. Auden poem, "You shall love your crooked neighbor with all your crooked heart" (this is at the top of my list if I ever get another tattoo).
I also really liked the idea of a tattoo to help me remember things - specifically a photography tattoo because it's something I really love and it would serve to remind me that life is beautiful.
The day of my tattoo, though, I realized that what I need to remember now is to not allow my fears or insecurities to cage me in. The closer my appointment came, the more I took everything everyone said to heart - at least, all of the bad things. I was afraid that it was a sin, that I would regret it forever, that I'd get the wrong thing because what I wanted was different from what everyone else wanted.
In the back of my mind, though, I knew I wanted one. I knew I wouldn't regret it - at least not for a long time. I knew I had to go with it, mainly because if I backed out now, I would never do it, and I would regret letting my petty fears dictate my choices.
Thinking about my fears made me realize that that is what I want to learn right now - how to take chances, do things I want without being afraid of what other people think. I don't just mean when it comes to tattoos, either. There are other things in my life that I want to do - things that seem impossible. I have this tendency of putting myself down, saying, there's no way I could ever be that good. I act like my dreams are a joke, like it's ridiculous for me to try to do something radical.
But it's not. As I recently learned in Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth, "What you can do is often simply a matter of what you will do."
Read part two.
Read part three.