I get asked a lot about what this tattoo is a symbol of. Love? Harmony? Trust?
It's sort of all of those things, but I never find it simple to explain.
In 1998 I walked into the local Vermont Ave. tattoo joint with a copy of the Tao Te Ching in my hand and pointed to the symbol. I sat for about forty-five minutes while the artist inked and scratched the moving shapes into my left deltoid. This was a bold move for me, a tattoo on my arm; I'd hid the others below the waistline: the wolf's paw print in 1990 and the Warrior's spear in 1994. Earlier messages to my then self from my further-along self that I am still learning about. Funny how we reach back and teach ourselves from the future, isn't it?
The direct translation of Tao means, literally, the way.
Like so many things I've done, I have no real clue why I'm doing them until it manifests years later. I only know in the moment that it will be significant, though I can't say precisely why or how. Releasing and surrender have been big for me for a very long time, but I'd say that this year has been the token year of letting go. Letting it all go...
This piece, from the essay Surrender Into Mothering, by Chris Pritchard, says much of it for me:
What I know now about parenting is to "surrender." I've learned how childbirth brings with it self-discovery, self-healing, and adaptation to the new selves we become every single day of our lives. No one ever told me that, as an adult, I would keep on changing. I would have to move and flow with changes in myself, as well as all around me, for the rest of my life. No one ever explained that this process never ends, that it is infinite. Learning to surrender means learning to go with change. And change requires surrender.
From the first days of pregnancy, when the beautiful creature inside your body begins to puff out your belly and your breasts, makes you nauseated and tired, makes you have emotional depths and heights, radically affects your relationship with everyone around you, you are asked by this tiny new life to adapt to all these changes, If you resist you will suffer. You must give in. You do let go. You shed your old self. Perhaps pregnancy, more than any other period in a woman's life, enables her to understand the complexity of this requirement in life--to change and to adapt.
Pregnancy enables us to open a multitude of doorways--into ourselves, into our ancestral past, and into our future. Sometimes walking through these doorways can give us insights that can shift old patterns on this planet. The gift of childbirth challenges us to take nothing for granted, and to flow and to move like a great ocean, around any rocky obstacle.
I begin my fortieth year wiring in Coyote's way- to enjoy having without possessing, to revel in loving without boundaries, to delight in surrendering my defenses, to laugh when I might reflexively admonish myself, to freely release all that I create, to dance around the fire which burns up the old, to drink in breath without fear, to trust it all and take nothing for granted. To do less, to want less, to need less. To practice it over and over again.
Whatever is soft and yielding
is a disciple of life.
The hard and stiff will be broken.
The soft and supple will prevail.
-Tao Te Ching