*more information below on dance parties and my feelings of guilt if you so desire*
So one time I got my first tattoo. I was 18 and in Tucson, Arizona and it was on the side of my foot. It was easy to hide from my parents for a while (because no, I did not ask them first), until we went to the beach and I figured socks in the ocean might be a wee bit ‘taking it too far’. I don’t regret this tattoo, I enjoy the meaning and the location of it, but I do wish it could’ve been a better situation overall. The artist messed up some of the ink and caused a piece of it to look too thick. It taught me a few things: first, never rush a tattoo. Make sure you know exactly what you want, why you want it, where you want, and WHO you want it done by. If you are NOT using your own money to get it, please ask your parents (or whoever’s money it is) before doing so. I did feel extremely guilty for a while that I got it done in secret on their own dime. I understand their frustrations from that aspect.
So one time I got my second tattoo. And my third one. At the same time. A few more lessons I learned about this one: if you have a friend that does them and does them well, jump at this glorious opportunity. Not only does this contribute to their business, but the experience for me was much more comfortable. Second, if you’re getting 2 at a time, prepare yourself. The reactions are strong and if you’re in as emotionally weak of a place as I was, they can cause major spirals of self-doubt. This isn’t to say that you need to be completely stable to get one, but try and keep your mind focused on the reasons you got them and the world you can see yourself living in if the judgments weren’t a thing (considering this world can be your reality if you change your perceptions). You’ll be much happier with your decision in this make-believe (believe?) reality. Third, don’t hide them from your extended family in the summertime if you live in Arizona, considering one tattoo was lower arm and the other was lower leg. A cardigan and long pants in 100-degree weather is a no-go and people will start to question your sanity as you sweat profusely in your winter attire. Just face it and own them. The first time I didn’t hide them around some of the family, one of my little cousins took the plunge and screamed “YOU HAVE A TATTOO???” so naturally many stopped and looked. Thankfully, the fact it all happened at once, and the fact my brother chimed in with some cool fun facts about his passing out during his tattoos, made for a much more easy-going situation than I had ever envisioned (shout out to little children for their blunt honesty).
Lastly, I want to end on this quote. A quote that talks about getting tattoos and some of the deeper meanings behind acts like these. But before I do… I just want to say thank you to all the people who continue to support forms of self-expression of any kind… be it painting, tattooing, dance, singing… I think forms of self-expression are crucial to our survival as human beings and I think we are way too deprived of it as a whole.
“We have gone sick by following a path of untrammelled rationalism, male dominance, attention to the visible surface of things, practicality, bottom-line-ism. We have gone very, very sick. And the body politic, like any body, when it feels itself to be sick, it begins to produce antibodies, or strategies for overcoming the condition of dis-ease. And the 20th century is an enormous effort at self-healing. Phenomena as diverse as surrealism, body piercing, psychedelic drug use, sexual permissiveness, jazz, experimental dance, rave culture, tattooing, the list is endless. What do all these things have in common? They represent various styles of rejection of linear values. The society is trying to cure itself by an archaic revival, by a reversion to archaic values. So when I see people manifesting sexual ambiguity, or scarifying themselves, or showing a lot of flesh, or dancing to syncopated music, or getting loaded, or violating ordinary canons of sexual behaviour, I applaud all of this; because it’s an impulse to return to what is felt by the body — what is authentic, what is archaic — and when you tease apart these archaic impulses, at the very centre of all these impulses is the desire to return to a world of magical empowerment of feeling.
And at the centre of that impulse is the shaman: stoned, intoxicated on plants, speaking with the spirit helpers, dancing in the moonlight, and vivifying and invoking a world of conscious, living mystery. That’s what the world is. The world is not an unsolved problem for scientists or sociologists. The world is a living mystery: our birth, our death, our being in the moment — these are mysteries. They are doorways opening on to unimaginable vistas of self-exploration, empowerment and hope for the human enterprise. And our culture has killed that, taken it away from us, made us consumers of shoddy products and shoddier ideals. We have to get away from that; and the way to get away from it is by a return to the authentic experience of the body — and that means sexually empowering ourselves, and it means getting loaded, exploring the mind as a tool for personal and social transformation.
The hour is late; the clock is ticking; we will be judged very harshly if we fumble the ball. We are the inheritors of millions and millions of years of successfully lived lives and successful adaptations to changing conditions in the natural world. Now the challenge passes to us, the living, that the yet-to-be-born may have a place to put their feet and a sky to walk under; and that’s what the psychedelic experience is about, is caring for, empowering, and building a future that honours the past, honours the planet and honours the power of the human imagination. There is nothing as powerful, as capable of transforming itself and the planet, as the human imagination. Let’s not sell it straight. Let’s not whore ourselves to nitwit ideologies. Let’s not give our control over to the least among us. Rather, you know, claim your place in the sun and go forward into the light. The tools are there; the path is known; you simply have to turn your back on a culture that has gone sterile and dead, and get with the programme of a living world and a re-empowerment of the imagination. Thank you very, very much.”
― Terence McKenna, The Archaic Revival