February 10, 2014 § 3 Comments
I awoke with three words on my mind: Free to be. I shook my head to clear away the confusion I was feeling from waking up in a new place. My eyes focused on the waves crashing against the sandy beach… a dream? No. That is actually what I was waking up to. We were on a private beach in Uluwatu and I had falling asleep in the sun. The words in my head, free to be, would become my next tattoo.
Last April, on a trip to Hawaii, I bought a piece of driftwood that someone had burned “Free To Be” into. I had intended the driftwood as a gift, but the more I looked at it, the more I connected with it. It came home with me and spent the next 9 months on my bedside table. I awoke every morning to it.
Last summer, I remember heading out for a walk and watching a couple of dogs running as fast as they could through the park. Carefree, ears flapping in the wind behind them. I wanted to feel like that, energized and happy to be running as fast as I could for no other reason than the sheer enjoyment of it. But even the walk was work at that point. It just seemed so far away.
You know my story from following previous blog posts. I worked my ass off, settled the rest of my commitments and set off on my travels. I found myself in Bali with a group of women I had never before met, only been on conference calls with prior to the trip and stalked them on Facebook. We were all participants in a trip called the Magical Bali Bucket List tour with Spices Tours. Two weeks in Bali together. It could be a wonderful experience or a terrible nightmare. It was a wonderful experience.
I wasn’t planning on getting a second tattoo–at least not in Bali. But, one of the gals on the trip and I got to talking about tattoos–she’s a vibrant canvas of so many beautiful ones! One thing lead to another and soon there were 5 of us who all signed on for a Bali tattoo. Now the hard part… what do I get? I do what I always do when I don’t know an answer yet. I slept on it… in the sunshine on the private beach in Uluwatu.
Two tattoos. On the same arm. Not small. Extremely prominent. Two tattoos that are just so… me.
Free to be. It’s about many things. It’s giving myself permission for this journey I’m on. Even though I’ve gone ahead with it, there’s still a part of me that feels guilty for not taking the path more travelled by. The path so many others take. I tried it for a long time because I thought I was supposed to, not because I ever really wanted to. This tattoo is about following my heart and being whoever it is I want to be in any given moment.
It’s also about reminding myself that if this is a principle I’m living by, it applies to everyone else too. Every friend who may or may not see what I see; loved ones who struggle with my alternative lifestyle choices; past, present or potential partners… everyone. We’re all at where we’re at and we’re free to be there as much or as little as we want. Whenever I find a monologue in my brain that’s anything other than cheering somebody on in the choices they’re making, all I have to do is look down at my arm and remember, “Oh right… we’re free to be.”
Right after I scheduled this post to publish, I came across this TED Talk about modern slavery… obviously I have some opinions there, unfortunately that discussion didn’t quite fit into the flow of this post.