The needle touches down lightly, moving across my shoulder with the precision and grace of an Olympic ice dancer, its delicate pattern slowly beginning to be revealed…
I have wanted a tattoo for years. The design had changed over time from a pair of puckered lips on my ass during the 80s, which I refer to as my “angry period,” to a guardian angel as an homage to the spirit who has shown me the way whenever I have asked, and finally to the hummingbird, representing to me the energy of joy and creativity.
I relax into the steady buzz and light stinging sensation as brilliant blues and greens begin to bring the image to life…
I recall an acting teacher once saying that, like the hummingbird that appears as if in stillness while batting its wings at 55 beats per second, creativity requires that we raise our energy to that same high level and then contain it in the moment. It’s an image that has stayed with me. The hummingbird’s natural ability to fly backwards, forwards, left, right, up, down or just hover in one place inspires me to keep my imagination open, free to travel in any direction in an instant, and to express my ideas without limitations.
And then he’s there, reminding me to take nourishment from my surroundings and, in so doing, to nourish others.
If a single creative expression touches just one other person in some small way, it’s like pollinating flowers. Something somewhere is sure to grow.
Tattoo by artist Chrissy Summers at “Sink or Swim” in Grover Beach, California.