Friday, February 5, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 36

Taken: February 5, 2010, 8 p.m.
Location: Los Angeles, CA

I have a tattoo. It's recent -- less than two years old. I'm exactly that sort of person who never gets tattoos. It's the permanence of it. You know, the idea that if I'm lucky to live into my 90s, having a tattoo will not seem so cool anymore. And yeah, I admit to being worried about the whole cleanliness of it. The pain was certainly a deterrence but not the main one. And really, it didn't hurt that much.

But somewhere along the way, the idea of getting one started to form in my head. Not long after I moved to Sonoma County, the impulse got stronger and stronger until I just couldn't ignore it anymore. Until it seemed like more than just something to do, more than just a rebellious act or me being trendy. It became a mission. I know that's weird but it was like a spiritual journey for me. I needed it.

I used to write like people breathe air. I loved it. I looked forward to it. I made friends with my characters and dreamt of the worlds in which they lived.  I woke up wanting to do it and spend hours at work anxious to get back to my pages. Slowly, though, I lost faith in myself, my craft, the effortlessness of writing words, the joy. I think I'm finding my way home but still, it's been like I'm stranded on a desert island. Half the time you're trying to find your way through the dense thicket, not knowing if you're still on the right path or you've been going around in circles all day. The rest of the time, it's like climbing up a slick steep wall, clawing your way inch by inch with no way of knowing how close your are to the top -- or how far away it is. It's a kind of torture I wouldn't wish on anybody.

The idea of getting a tattoo was in part my way of reconnecting with my craft. Something I could look at every day, a reminder of the joy it once brought me. I knew I wanted to put it in a place where I would see it while I worked and I knew I wanted it to be words. I did settle on an idea and yet I kept putting it off. Was I scared? Or was it something else?

Like maybe ... fate. Yeah I know what you're thinking but if it wasn't for my happening to download an audiobook of the Bill Moyers PBS Special on Joseph Campbell called The Power of Myth, I might not like my tattoo very much. It wasn't the first time I've heard this interview or read Campbell -- he's one of our great American thinkers, philosophers and teachers and I find I return to his work all the time and each time find something new and exciting there. And this time, it resonated with me in a whole new way. I don't know why. Maybe getting out of L.A. helped, temporarily leaving the rat race. Whatever it was, it was like listening to Campbell for the first time.

When Campbell's students used to ask him how to apply his teachings in the real world, he would always tell them the same thing:  "Follow your bliss. Find where it is, and don't be afraid to follow it."

And there it was. Follow your bliss. Damn straight.

I don't know if I succeed in doing this every day but I try. It helps to have a reminder with you everywhere you go, that's for sure.

The typeface is a 1942 typewriter font I found on the internet.  The whole process of getting the tattoo was tribal and even a little spiritual (maybe why I didn't mind the pain so much) and nearly two years later, I've absolutely no regrets. In fact, I'm thinking of getting another one. As of yet, though, the words have not come to me. All I know is if they do come, I'll know it's time to get that second tattoo.

Taken with my K100D with the built-in flash. Lightly edited with Photoshop.


Theresa said...

Great inspiration Elizabeth!

Buy the way, hug the pugs!


S.O.L. said...

Thank you, Theresa. I really appreciate you stopping by and commenting.