3 Jun

I will probably never get a tattoo.

It’s not that I have anything against them. In fact, I think there are some really awesome tattoos. I know people who have the coolest and most personal words and designs and they all have these inspiring and amazing stories that go along with them.

I wish I could confidently stroll into a tattoo parlor and demand for the finest artist to ink the most fantastic design forever on my skin. I really want to want a tattoo.

Here’s my problem, team: I am outstandingly mediocre.  Do not read this as an outcry for boosts of enthusiasm or sympathy.  Because if you do, I will be livid.

I am, and probably always will be, pretty good at a lot of things, and I love this about myself.

Sure, I’m not a great runner; I never won any races, but I did a solid job and I have fun pushing myself. I would call myself fairly intelligent, but I’m not out winning genius awards of trophies or pendants – or whatever it is natural Einstein’s get for being awesome. (Gift certificates, maybe? T-shirts? That would be pretty b.a.) I wouldn’t call myself an artist by any stretch of the imagination, but I love to doodle and can draw a pretty mean cartoon character if you give me enough time. Once I also collected stamps for a few years. And then snow globes. But none of them ever to the point where I had a swooningly huge and elaborate collection.

Mostly, I think I just face an overall lack of conviction and enthusiasm. It’s not like I’m uncommitted – I always stick things through to the end and do my very best. But I just like so many things and want to try everything and don’t really mind if I am not the best when I finish. Also, it never seems to matter to me if I am outrageously talented or not. What’s the big idea, anyway?

Which leads me to my dilemma.

Amongst many things, I also play the piano, the guitar, the violin, and the mandolin – all to varying degrees of decency. I don’t rock at any of them, but I feel pretty solid about my talents. I just like doing them.  I love to diddle around on the keys, which I was doing one day (so poorly), when I was asked to play for our swearing in ceremony. Not just any song, but both national anthems.

Why I said yes I will never know.  Sure I can play the piano, but can I really play the piano? Would I ever tattoo a big ol’ keyboard on my upper arm? Heeeeell no.

I am now faced with this weird concern that I will fail miserably, but I also have this slightly inner confidence that says, you know what, you can do this. Ms. Jackson would be proud of you!  All those hours spent in her tiny little home slamming away on her ivories while she forced you to spit out your gum were not in vain!

On the other hand, I can’t even play a song from memory. I can read music and figure it out okay, but it will take me a minute.

On the other hand, no one else volunteered.

At the same time, Olivia, you suck. You can’t even really read the bass clef well to save your life.

Ugh, people. I will have to report back when this is all done. At that point, I will either have this burning desire to get some sort of piano-themed memento inked eternally on my wrist, or a giant FAIL! slammed on my forehead.

Stay tuned, friends.


 Over the tree-tops I float thee a song,
Over the rising and sinking waves, over the myriad fields and the prairies wide,
Over the dense-packed cities all and the teeming wharves and ways,
I float this carol with joy, with joy to thee, O death.
 – Walt Whitman

2 Responses to “Tattoos”

  1. John Nelson June 3, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

    This one really hit me. I too am good at lots of things but great at none, which leads to me question myself from time to time. Where is my passion?, What one thing could I ever focus in on so that I could become an expert? Does it matter if I am ever an expert at one thing or really great at something? Not really. I am comfortable with being good or even just adequate at a lot of things and would likely become bored if I only focused on one thing. I think that is what I loved so much about school. Constant learning, many subjects, many sub-topics,diverse perspectives, and never too much of just one thing. ( I waited a long time to become a nerd, but I finally got there.)

    I also deliberated hard for years about getting a tatoo, but found nothing that I was passionate enough about to want it permanently attatched to my body. I love sports, but none so much that I could pick one, or even a team. I love my family, reading, fishing, and school. I am passionate about those things, but cannot even imagine a tattoo that could ever express the depth of my passion accurately. The tattoo could never live up to the passion and would therefore always be just a tad disappointing, I suspect. Forever is such long time when thinking about advertising something that matters a great deal to me at any one moment in time.

    All in all, I guess that I don’t want people to think they know something about me without ever having talked to me. Maybe I’ll get a bookbag, or a blackboard, or pictures of the kids, maybe a fish, or maybe I’ll just go for the Seinfeld theory and get a tattoo of nothing.

    I love your writing style and your honesty.


  2. zoot June 4, 2013 at 10:04 am #

    “But I just like so many things and want to try everything and don’t really mind if I am not the best when I finish.” This is a most excellent trait. One day, maybe in the distant future, or tomorrow perhaps, you will come to realize that you have become excellent at one thing or another. Then you might look back in time with satisfaction. This is a much better position to have than to look back and wonder, “What if…?”

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