My tattoo told me to do it

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about life these days.  Forty-six years old, and I still haven’t figured it out.

This is frustrating, because I’m smart and usually a quick learner.

I feel like I’ve read all the manuals and have all of the information.  I just haven’t been able to put it into play.  Yet.  (That’s me trying my best to be optimistic.)

tattooRecently, I’ve been staring at one of my tattoos.  I got this tattoo — my second one — when I was 40 years old.  The Chinese symbols for love and fear sit on the inside of my left arm.

Chinese symbol tattoos are great because you can tell people that they mean pretty much anything.  Example: I told my mom and dad that my tattoo meant “most esteemed parents.”

When I was in my twenties, I read Marianne Williamson’s A Return to Love, and it changed my life.  Basically, Williamson said everything in life can be distilled into two things: love and fear.  We either choose love or we choose fear.  It’s as simple as that.

I guess it’s the choose part that I wrestle with.  Always choosing love would mean letting go.  And that’s been my life-long struggle.  Letting go of control, pride, arrogance, being right, grudges, stubbornness.  Did I mention control?

I wonder what it would feel like to just let go of it all.

imagesCAA34T2GIt seems scary and crazy … like jumping out of a plane without a parachute.  But maybe it would be freeing.  And maybe I wouldn’t need a parachute if I wasn’t so loaded down with everything that I cling to so rigidly and tightly.  Maybe I could actually soar on my own without the self-imposed burdens that I carry around like a three-piece set of old-fashioned luggage filled with the ghosts and dead bodies  of my past.

* * *

We went to W’s family reunion today.  It was the first one without her grandmother, the beloved family matriarch.

After the reunion, we drove out to the cemetery to leave flowers and pay our respects.  W cried on my shoulder.

When I asked her why she was crying, she told me that her grandmother was so important to so many people.

It’s true.  She was a guiding light to so many.

She certainly wasn’t a saint.  She was a human being with her own flaws and frailties.  But she always radiated immense love.  I never heard her raise her voice or speak negatively about anyone.  She practiced kindness and compassion, patience and understanding.

I was always struck by how peaceful she seemed and knew deep in my heart that she had figured out this thing called life.

She never needed any tattoos to remind her how to act or how to live.

But maybe my tattoo is the reminder that I need.  A reminder to always choose love.

14 responses to “My tattoo told me to do it

  1. I don’t think we ever fully figure it out.. we evolve and situations change and just when you think you’ve got it figured out, something changes! Tattoo is great…. you always have your choices close at hand… or in this case, close at arm 😉 another reminder is to simply look at the 3 piece set of luggage…. we all have some of that and we all choose what we keep in there and carry around. Accept the past for it cannot be changed now and always move forward even when it’s scary. Fear is toxic and paralyzing and will often blind you of your options in different situations. Letting go of control is a tough one… maybe small steps first on that … and build confidence that will eliminate the fear. Great article! 😉

    • Thanks, Roxi. And thanks for your words of wisdom. Maybe I need to visualize setting down those heavy bags as a way of letting go.

      • Anytime my friend. Luggage is only useful when you’re going to the airport. 😉

        Let it go. Hold your head up high. Keep moving forward and don’t let anyone or anything stop you…… including yourself. And if anyone has a problem with that, they are the ones who need to build a bridge and get over it! 😉

  2. I totally agree with Roxi and with Lifeofawillow! It’s a journey…always something new to deal with and figure out….great post indeed!

  3. So this is interesting to me because I’ve been thinking about my fears lately. Mostly about how they center around my children. But because that’s my job (as the kind of mom I happen to be)… the kids are free to leap and romp and have adventures. They’re growing up knowing I’ve got the fear thing completely covered. I’m holding down the fort. So I think I choose both. I don’t think fear and love are mutually exclusive Like they say, courage isn’t the absence of fear… it’s moving forward despite being afraid. Love is the same, I suspect.

    • I think Williamson means fear in a broader context. She talks about how love is what we were born with and fear is what we have learned. “Fear is our shared lovelessness, our individual and collective hells,” she writes. So it’s the opposite of love in this context.

      Hope this makes sense.

      • Yes, that does make sense. I had a feeling it had to be more complicated than what I was thinking… and we definitely do learn fear. The concept that it’s the opposite of love is interesting.

      • Yeah, it’s one of those concepts that requires a lot of deep thinking and pondering. It isn’t intuitive … or at least not to me.

  4. Pingback: What’s in your baggage? | The Flannel Files

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