Day 4 of the tattoo was pure discomfort. The Aquaphor felt heavy and made my clothes stick to my back. Everything about the way I carried myself changed in my attempts to keep from aggravating my skin. Not only was the tattoo itself an open wound, but the area around it continued to become inflamed. I had done my best to follow the aftercare instructions faithfully, only to feel as if my best was short of good enough. The tattoo felt less like ink laid into skin, and more like razors placed lovingly in a pattern and left protruding. The pain itself was negligible, but the question of how to support my healing tormented me. I had stayed the course because I had not known what to expect, even though C had been researching on my behalf and had concluded that I ought to switch to lotion at least part-time. Once again, I was choosing to follow solid yet general advice rather than shift to meet the demands of my corporeal reality. I defaulted to that old reliance on purposeful ignorance of my inconvenient needs.
I think that our bodies carry moral/ethical regulating systems, as well as the physical ones that keep us alive. In fact, I believe that the system that tells us of physical danger (e.g., Thats’s too hot! or Don’t approach that wary-looking dog!) is the same system that tells us of moral danger in the form of feelings of unease. In this way, the body and the soul are one and the same, despite our best efforts to separate them. Obviously this belief is nothing new, especially in so-named “Eastern” cultures, as well as a smattering of indigenous cultures we of the “West” continue to attempt to eradicate through physical/cultural evisceration. Even so, my individual acceptance–my slow unlearning of this false bifurcation–is new. I falter, and each time I do, it feels sysiphean. But it’s not. It’s progress, in all its messy, demanding glory, and I am honored to be so wrapped up in it.
(Impressions on skin.)
~End of (P)art 4~