I know I know I’m a photographer and traveler and this is supposed to be a travel and photography blog and I’m wandering away in philosophical and spiritual questions you would say. Well you’re right but guess what, this is also my blog and I decided that I could write whatever I want on my blog so here I am. Oh and also I’m not even sure anyone reads it besides my parents so yeah, salut Papa et Maman!
Impermanence has been a concept I've been thinking a lot for a while, especially in India in Nepal, especially with what happened. Tattoos have also been something gradually taking more and more importance in my life and both are quite linked.
Tattoos are such a good example of impermanence even if they usually are the opposite for most people; something permanent. They are much more than just a drawing on your skin, it’s an experience in itself.
First of all the pain. During my first tattoo, I was surprised and shocked of how bad it hurts, I expected less pain than that. I even thought, wow this is bad, had I known before, I don’t think I would have done it and this is gonna be the last one! Well minutes after I’ve realized that the pain was over. This period of time in my life that was extremely painful for me was over and the pain did not exist anymore; impermanence. I realized that I could and would (and eventually did) have more tattoos in the future because even if it would be as painful I knew it would not be permanent and that the pain would pass. Pain is not a permanent aspect of life and even less of existence itself. Do realize that pain will be present but when it occurs, it will eventually end and you will reflect about it as a finite and finished event.
Tattoos are permanent drawings…on an impermanent body. “But do you realize this is gonna stay on your body for the rest of your life?” “Yes! But do YOU realize that life is not a long time at all and that this body will eventually decay in such a state that a drawing on it will be the least of its esthetic problem?” Think about it, most artists, photographers, painters, writers, musicians have their art lasting hundreds of years, and live through many generations. It must be strange for a tattoo artist to know that all of his art will decay and eventually fade completely. Impermanence!
Another concept brought to my mind by tattoos is the fact that each moment goes on but always remain. The moment you start thinking about the present, it became the past. Any event in your life will quickly become a memory of the past but will always have happened. Tattoos are a visual reminder of this. The motivation for a particular tattoo, your mindset, a certain period of your life will have been set in ink on your body. This period will have passed, this tattoo session will have passed but it will always have existed and you’ll have the proof, the physical reminder. The impermanence of one moment, of one emotion will happen for less than a second but will at the same time always exist. Again, impermanence.
With that being said, I think I might have another idea for another tattoo....
PS. If this text gave you some ideas or urge for a first tattoo, please do your homework and find a real tattoo artist (not the friend of a friend who bought a machine) with a portfolio corresponding to your tastes and ideas. Don’t rush anything! If you live in Montreal, great place to start is the amazing parlor Bodkin Tattoo in the Mile-End with the nicest people ever.