Our genius is to understand, and stand beneath the set of stars present at our birth, and from that place to seek the hidden, single star, over the night horizon, we did not know we were following.David Whyte
The day I spontaneously committed to being true to myself started off not unlike any other day. It was a warm Saturday morning. The smell of jasmine was in the air and I was in my standard weekend active wear. It had been a particularly challenging week at work. The environment I was working in was heavy with fear and greed-fuelled politics and I could feel myself drifting out of alignment with my values and aspirations.
I was walking to my car from the supermarket, arms laden with groceries, when I saw it – a small ornate sign on the footpath that said in curly red letters – Tattoo Parlour, Walk-Ins Welcome.
Suddenly, something crystallised inside me.
Within seconds I was standing inside a portal to another world. A humming, buzzing world filled with dark, beautiful things. A world inhabited by people who make big, lasting commitments. People who boldly embody the messages: This is who I am. This is what is important to me.
‘Um, hello…how much does a tattoo cost…and how long does it take?’ The rapid-fire answer was ‘$120. We’ll have you out of here in 40 minutes.’ Clearly, I was not the first slightly desperate-looking middle-aged mum to be pulled through their doors like a moth to a flame.
‘Okay! Just give me a minute.’
I stepped back outside into the bright sunlight and dug up my phone from the bottom of my bag. The telephone conversation with my husband went something like this:
Me: Hi honey, I’m going to be a bit late getting home with the groceries.
Him: Okay, everything all right?
Me: Yeah, um…I am just going to get a tattoo.
Me: Don’t worry, it’s just a small one, a little star on my wrist.
Him: Ah, okay…
Me: I just need a reminder, something visible, so I don’t keep forgetting to follow my North Star, I really think it will help me.
Him: Okay then, if you are really sure… But you are going to have to deal with the kids when they tell us that they want a tattoo.
Honestly, I was not really sure if I was doing the right thing – even though I would never have admitted that to my husband at the time. Despite the distinct possibility that I had finally lost my marbles, I decided to have faith in my own knowing. I decided that getting a symbol of a star permanently etched into my left wrist was somehow my next best step.
And I am so glad I did.
I love my little North Star tattoo and the commitment, non-conformity and spontaneous activism it symbolises. I have since learnt that the Latin root of the word desire is de sidere, meaning of the stars. My tattoo is a permanent reminder to stay true to my highest desires and aspirations for my one precious, short (working) life.
My kids are still young enough to think that my tattoo is cool, and so far, they have not asked when they can get one. My hope is that they will never need one. My hope is that they grow up with an unbroken line of sight to their aspirations, their worthiness and their right to do good work with good people. That they have an unwavering awareness of their brilliance and their vast potential.
If this were to happen, perhaps they might be part of a liberated generation that renders the mid-life crisis redundant. Perhaps, they might even be part of the generation that saves our world.
Now, that would be really cool.
Self-fidelity Practice To Play With This Week
The most common regret of the dying is not having lived a life that was true to themselves. Our aspirations guide us towards the creation of a life that is aligned with our highest values and deepest longings. In times of struggle and disorientation, our aspirations serve as our north star. The self-fidelity practice I invite you to play this week is to reflect on the following burning questions:
- What are the highest aspirations I hold for my own (working) life?
- What might be possible if, starting today, I became more attuned to these aspirations?
- If I am way off course, what is my next best step to begin to gently course-correct?
Put down the weight of your aloneness, and ease into the conversation.David Whtye