In any story we have the privilege of telling, we look for the natural phenomena of everyday life: the likeness and the rarity of an individuals talent, dreams, and struggles. To us, the ultimate definition of a life, is choice. Ultimately, choices are one of few things that separates our humanity. They are influenced by culture, family, connection, time, and place. However often based on logic, not all choices are founded in any particular rationale, nor are they necessarily decisive. The decisions we make are based on our own history, philosophy, and fascinatingly, a sizable degree of the unknown within us. We simply make them because we do.
In this Woven Ink, Alana Lyons shares with us how she became the proud wearer of a bear, a deer, a hot air balloon, and a broken arrow, among other fantastical companions. From Alana’s collection, we learned that tattoos not only project our ideas of beauty or evoke a story, they memorialize our decisions and the circumstances of their arrival. They are deliberate reminders of who we were in a specific moment or season of life. Strewn across her like landmarks on a map, her tattoos represent a path, the natural mystery of life as it is lived, remembered, and treasured. Her stories have soaked into her skin, taking on a personality of their own, open to be interpreted by strangers and friends who stop to marvel at their careful traces of color. One might notice a tranquil dignity, like that of an unexpected meeting with a stag; yet another may catch the gentle gaze of a cub before it has grown into its full ferocity. Like a living fantasy, each invites you to wonder at what it could all mean.
The first tattoo often gives a person away. Despite later attempts to learn from mistakes or inject more meaning into the next piece, that first bit of ink is singularly incomprehensible. The lifelong implications or stinging pain can never fully be anticipated. Like many of her subsequent tattoos, this first revolved around the complexity of family. It was after an argument her older sister, already painted with tattoos, had with their mother that Alana first felt that sting of knowledge. With only a car ride to the shop to decide, I imagine there were a number of things she considered. What should it be? Where should it go? What can it mean? What can I live with the rest of my life? More importantly, though, was the act of loyalty to her sister. Ready or not, Alana chose a small diamond to be hidden on her hip. “I was going through a tough time with Jake,” her now husband, she tells us. “And diamonds are forever,” letting us translate for ourselves the uncertainty she felt in their relationship that day. It wasn’t a stretch for us to understand. Just as that diamond is now forever fixed on her, the memory of that day will never leave her.