Monday, February 05, 2007
You know how sometimes when you learn something and it's just so right and so perfect and so mind-blowing that you actually start making real changes, implementing what you've learned into your life? When something you've read or seen or heard actually changes your life because you couldn't possibly ignore it? When you open your brain to what's being said and allow it to affect you instead of considering it something that you "should" do or something that you'll "do later" or "get to eventually?"
I'm sure we've all experienced it when we've made big changes; maybe when we became a vegetarian, or moved from vegetarian to vegan, or left a sedentary lifestyle for daily gym visits, or maybe even converted to a different religion. Changes like that are incredible and at some point, you think "how did I ever not do this?" You feel good - you feel great! It's all so clear and obvious and right.
Time passes though, and it's possible that what was once so clear and obvious and right is just... a little less. Maybe you forget how much those teachings meant to you and before you know it, you're slipping and maybe picking up some old habits, using old excuses. Maybe you allow yourself to have junk food/meat/dairy "because it's a special occasion" or skip the gym a few times because you're just "so tired" or spend less time meditating/praying/chanting because you're "too busy." Maybe you even feel bad about about slipping and so you try to satisfy your feelings of inadequacy with your vice/s of choice - cigarettes, television, sex, gambling, dressing up like a chicken, or, ahem, drinking large quantities of red boxed wine.
Maybe you catch yourself and return to the lessons and re-read or re-study, and get back on track. Or maybe the excuses get so loud and the distractions so many, that you forget what you learned entirely, as if the lessons never existed and the change never happened.
That forgetting thing was so totally not what I wanted to have happen after I read The Four Agreements. I read it one afternoon about a year and a half ago - in less than three hours my life was changed.
And it felt good! As I started making changes over the next few weeks, I felt so amazing that I thought, "man, I've gotta get this tattooed on my forehead or something so I never forget how right this is." Of course, having a tattoo on one's forehead to serve as a reminder is kind of dumb. How often do you see your forehead? I knew that I wanted a tattoo symbolizing The Four Agreements somewhere on my body where I could refer to it often, someplace where it would serve as a daily visual reminder.
About a year after I read the book, I loaned it to L, and seven months later, this weekend, together we got those tattoos, thanks in part to 43 things kicking us in our asses. I love when shit comes together like it has for us over the last few weeks :)
So, "live the Four Agreements." That was the big plan for our tattoo. Kind of vague, yes? We went through some ideas, but really, had no clue what we wanted. Thankfully, we had a very talented artist and an insanely patient man on our side. Paul (from Gallery of Living Art at Fifth and Cannon in Lansdale) worked with us to come up with four brilliant designs using the elements we wanted:
The scoop on the design
The flower and bud design comes from the cover of the book (specifically, the lower right corner) and to us, shows growth, change and life. We found that the specific design of one fully bloomed flower and three buds was symbolic of the book's teachings: The flower represented the first agreement, "be impeccable with your word," the agreement on which all others hinge; without impeccability of one's word, agreements just can't be made. Additionally, agreement one is not only the most important agreement, but also the hardest to accomplish. The three flower buds then, represented each of the following agreements noted in the book, "don't take anything personally," "don't make assumptions," and "always do your best."
Perfect! So, we looked at Paul's art and choose a design that fit the placement we wanted (we placed our tattoos on the same forearm, but not exactly in the same spot).
Because L is the greatest best friend in the entire world EVER, she let me go first. I have one other small tattoo that I got 12 years ago. Piercing has always been my body modification practice of choice, and I was nervous about the thought of extended needle time.
I shouldn't have worried. The experience was awesome and I can't wait to go back and get the next one (AC's name on the opposite arm). Also, it helped that L held my hand. Thanks, lady!
More pics on my flick'r page: http://flickr.com/photos/mikaelamartin/sets/72157594518548057/
Of course, L blogged about this, too: http://frekur.blogspot.com/2007/02/its-hurty.html
My arm is a little swollen and itchy as hell, but I love my tattoo. In fact, I keep catching myself loving everything - I love my best friend, I love Paul, I love the Four Agreements, I love tattoos, I love change, I love all of it!
Except maybe the dog and cat hair that sticks to the bacitracin ointment that I have to keep on the tattoo. I don't really love that.
But everything else!
Everything else is fucking beautiful! :)