A Story Told in Ink: Are you ready?

“Are you ready?” Tattoo Adam asks me as I lay face down on the table.  I wasn’t expecting to get the custom tiger tattoo stencil in our Waikiki Tattoo Studio that day, I thought I was just going to be seeing it.  Somewhat of a whirlwind later, there I am, face down on the table, a giant tiger about to be put on my back.  And I find myself asking the question that I have asked over and over again: what am I doing with my life?

And what a whirlwind it’s been.  The first tattoo I ever wanted was a tiger going across the top of my back.  This was when I was 20 or 21.  I wouldn’t get my first tattoo until I was 30 because I went into the “professional world” and mingled in politics and all types of things and services because I thought life was all about helping and serving others.  Before I knew it, my 20’s were over as was a large portion of the rest of my life because of some events that were beyond my control, but it seems, that Life was saying, JMAW, you’re ready.  But ready for what, right?

I was always interested in the Spiritual realm and each tattoo I have has a story, tells something about my spiritual journey up until this point and I’m guessing will continue to do so throughout my life.

I hear the buzz of the machine, it’s hypnotic, but as I lay there, I was asking myself what am I doing because I don’t if I’m ready…  But before I can answer the questions, I feel the burning sensation of the needle.

Sensations shoot throughout my body, wondering what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.  I recalled last summer, meditating and seeing a tiger come out of a cave.  I’d had a dream many years ago of entering a cave alone and all that I could see were the many eyes staring back at me. When my life went a little “off” I knew it was time to do the Inner Work, take my spiritual walk if you will, before I could go back to “business as usual” as UFC President Dana White likes to say.

So I prayed, I meditated, I learned to trust my intuition.  Each tattoo a reminder, a ritual form of healing.

“Should I talk?”  I ask, trying to distract myself from the feeling of the needle hitting the nerve endings along my spinal cord.  “No, just enjoy every minute of it…”  Adam replies.

My first tattoo was on my ribs, a reminder to live from a place of love and not fear.  I had a dream of a lion in its place that night and two more sessions later on that area adding lion tattoos, I figured, okay, I can keep doing it because it’s like that song, the first cut is the deepest you know and I chose to go really painful first in order to ease along later [I know, idiot, right?]

There were alot of other life lessons and so on mixed in but learning to go the route of living from love and not fear certainly helped in dealing with the unexpected which will surely arrive.  Kind of like this tattoo, Adam was like Life, telling me I was ready, even though I didn’t know if I was, just like that unexpected bundle of joy or whatever that shows up in our daily lives.

Because that’s it, you know?  You gotta keep moving forward through what comes because if it’s there, you’re ready for it.  At the start of each tattoo session, during, and at the conclusion, I marvel at how I know the pain won’t last, and what’s in it’s place is awesome. Just like the pain of life, when a wound heals, the scar can be a beautiful reminder.

In what was intensely long and now as I write, so far away, I realize I’m ready.  I’d had a number of dreams of a tiger crawling down my neck.  I suppose it knew it’s place all along was at my back as it exited the cave, the rabbit hole, the Matrix, the yada yada yada that my spiritual musings and meanderings have been.

And now I’m back. Not like The Terminator “I’ll be back” style but like literally, new career, new lease on life.  I’m going to appreciate this because the waves rise and fall man, and life will have more challenges and adversity in store, that’s just the nature of it…

Big Thx to Tattoo Adam and 434 Ohana for welcoming me on as the Blogger/Writer and helping me piece together elements of this crazy, wonderful journey.

JMAW for Honolulu Tattoo Studio 434 Tattoo.