Incarnations, Tattoos, and You

How many ‘incarnations’ have you gone through in this life?

I have less than a handful of friends with tattoos. They each claim they were sober and sane at the time, but that now they wish they hadn’t gotten that tattoo. That’s not to label anyone with a tattoo; that’s a personal choice. It is to say that we are constantly evolving, transforming, assuredly, into more enlightened beings. Indeed, if we go back to revisit our respective adolescent images as we tried on various identities, our subjective identities are very different in adulthood. Well…at least for most of us….

Who were you in High School? Nowhere is pigeon-holing more prevalent than in High Schools. Things are black and white with little grey areas: Jocks & cheerleaders versus intellectuals versus those least likely to graduate. You were either dubbed, “cool,” or “not.” It was an unfair game, sure, but it was all a part of the process of stepping into your authentic ‘self.’

The truth is, I have no tattoos, and I’m no cheerleader. Classmates would say things like, “nice, sweet, poetic, a good writer, kinda quiet, smart….” The commentary wouldn’t be wrong, even today, but I would add assertive, driven, compassionate, dedicated, business oriented, progressive thought leader, inspirational speaker, transformational author, change agent, and a few more labels.

Over time, my self-image and my life have undergone multiple transformative incarnations as I’ve embraced the hats of mom, wife, lover, single-mom, mother trucker, college student, social worker, consultant, crisis worker, business owner, group facilitator, community outreach specialist, non-profit CEO, empowerment coach, and multiple sub-groups of each of these roles. With the possible exception of truck driving, each of these positions share the thread of compassionate transformation services. Truck driving however, immersed me in my personal strengths and highlighted my tenacious streak that I can track back to pre-verbal times. In other words, all of these experiences are the parts of my whole being, and of my business and personal foundations.

I’m happy that I didn’t get a truck tattooed on my…wherever…anywhere! And although I’ve long had an affinity for the moon, I’m also glad that I didn’t get that tattoo either. And there was that dolphin period that I missed by a whisker….and most predictable, when my son died, I almost stepped under the needle. But I didn’t. Because there is a voice in my head that speaks in reasonable terms and has always been there, throughout the multiple incarnations I’ve spun into and out from throughout the decades. I change. Things change. Change is the only constant. These are the thoughts from that voice. And so, with the exception of some piercings, I remain needle free.

I thank God, I didn’t get a tattoo for each of those incarnations! “What would that look like?” I ask myself. My kids’ faces (at what age??) would decorate a space on my skin. My deceased son, would probably have two slots. There would be “the sun, the moon, and the stars” as that was our angel store motto, as in “We give you the sun, the moon….” I’m surmising that I would have the requisite dolphin, and something profoundly personal about being a writer, a poet, and a life consultant, but for the life of me, I have no idea what that would look like either. Maybe, because I also obtained real estate licenses in both California and Utah, I would have the “great seal” of something, somewhere. I really don’t know.

What I do know is that I love art. Much of my time is spent on “artist’s dates,” as Julia Cameron recommends in, The Artist’s Way. I live by the motto, “a life without beauty is not worth living.” Beauty surrounds me, and I thoroughly enjoy taking note of it, and whenever possible, enhancing it and enhancing my environment with special pieces that evoke emotion.

My art collection has evolved along with me. What’s dear to my heart today, is not necessarily the same as I held in the past. This natural transformation explains why, when I was gushing over an antique picture in my mother’s home, she admonished me with the questioning response of, “This old eyesore? Take it!” Beauty is in the eye or eyesore of the beholder. I still have the beautiful Maxfield Parrish ‘Dreamlight’ hanging on my wall.

Maybe what’s true is that these incarnations from one apparent life period to another, from one career move to the next, from one relationship to another, from one role to the next, from one progressive step to the next, have more to do with exposure to the available options than they have to do with leaving ruts or transformational evolution. Maybe what’s true is that we are all in flux, all of the time, and even as the tattoos begin to sag, not only under the weight of gravity, but also under the effects of growth, all of our incarnations lead to the next…to the next…to the next. Hopefully, those tattoos are also able to transform from suns, moons, and dolphins, into majestic full-winged butterflies as we grow into our own limitless wingspan.

But they’ll pry the Parrish out of my cold incarnating hands.  😉


M. Parrish Dreamlight

3 thoughts on “Incarnations, Tattoos, and You

  1. Angela, that’s awesome that you and your grandmother share the same tattoo! My grandmother had a great big “M” on her forearm. She got it when she married her 1st husband Matt Miller. It was done in that old blue-black ink and had no real character to speak of, but it fully reveals how progressive my g-ma was all those decades ago. She died about 5 years ago, and I miss her rebel spirit. And even though her tattoo wasn’t a glorious full-winged woman, it still represented her. I would love to know more about your (and your grandmother’s) tattoo.
    Thanks for the comment.

  2. I have a tattoo. Got it for my 30th birthday in homage to my grandmother who had the same tattoo on her wrist (I got mine on my shoulder so as to avoid the sag you mention above). Never regretted it.

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