When I was 12 I discovered and devoured the book The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury. I was mesmerized. Enchanted. Captured by the concept. A man covered in tattoos that told stories. I saw in that the beauty of a body being a canvas and it was something that stuck with me.
Just a little leap for me to be drawn to the idea of the stories that any body can and will tell over the course of a lifetime. It took me years to acquire my own first tattoo and since then it has been a collection of not only tattoos but other ways of marking and recording.
Scars, whether by actions purposeful or accidental, tell a story. The tattoos and other permanent marks we make on ourselves , such as scarifications and branding, have their own way of telling stories. The very method that we choose to make the marks that we do speaks volumes. Whether by a tattoo artists tools, blades, cautery tools or any other of the many ways to leave a mark, the how can sometimes be just as significant and telling as the what.
They record emotions, experiences or events. They honour transformative times and happenings in our lives. Even the signs of aging mark our bodies and tell what we have experienced. Laugh or frown lines carved deeply into a face can tell you much about a person’s demeanour before you even speak to them.
I can look at my own body and see the travels it has carried me on displayed in the marks it bears. The marks on the skin of my body from carrying and nursing my children. The myriad of little scars from my clumsy manner of making my way through my world. The scars from moles removed. There are the scars on my body that tell the story of loss and grief that is felt. Those tell a story of strength – not weakness. The scars from the hooks in my flesh tell their own story of strength and surrender and seeking.
Our bodies are our canvases and our vessels in life. They carry the stories of our histories in a way that is visible and loud. Loud in a way that isn’t heard but is seen and felt. Loud not with sounds but with impact. We each write our own stories by the lives we live in our bodies and how it shows. Beautifully and loudly. Scarred and marked and perfectly etched with what has made us who we are. Yet still only barely a glimpse at the invisible expanse that is inside.