I wear jewelry that represents certain ideals I value or even moments in my life I consider milestones. I wear a Tree of Life necklace every day; I have an owl necklace that my two best friends on the planet also wear; there is a ring on my left middle finger - right next to my wedding ring - that signifies the moment I finally forgave something I'd been holding onto for years.
But the convenient thing about jewelry is that I can take it off at any time. Decorating my body with ink, quite frankly, scares the bejeezes out of me. A tattoo for me, then, would have to be something so meaningful I will never regret its presence.
After years of thinking about it, I know now that if I ever get a tattoo, it will be the simple words, "I must" written like the print of an old fashioned typewriter on the inside of my right wrist.
"Why, Laura?" you may ask. Quite simply, because of the following excerpt from Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet:
There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity….This is possibly the best advice I've ever heard, and since I've already told you what I'd have tattooed on my wrist, you know my answer to his question.
I must. I must write. That's why I do this. That's why I stay late at school or don't go to the mall with friends. It's why my husband sometimes has to take a backseat to my characters. It's why I push myself, why I feel human, and why I dream.
And it is, above all else, the thing I need to remember most when I question myself. When the rejection letters come, or the agent who requested that full says it isn't for her, when the doubt and the "I sucks" and the "I'll never be good enoughs" seep in, the voice inside my head should say "I must." It should remind me of the real reason I do this - without writing, I am not ME. Writing is essential to my being, my wellness, and my identity.
If you haven't read Letters to a Young Poet, do yourself a favor and get a copy and a few Post It tabs and highlighters. You'll need them. Seriously great advice packed into every page.
I'm really curious, readers... tell me what you think of Rilke's words. OR tell me what tattoo you'd get. (I'm so curious about your tattoos, readers. I'm curious about what you think of Rilke too. But mostly the tattoos.)
(Also, the story will continue. Erin is away at the moment and has left me to my own devices. MWUAH HA HA. While the cat's away...)