In spite of being in large part a disastrous human for the better half of my life, my mom has seldom been disappointed in me. Concerned, yes; irritated, absolutely; confused, exhausted, and just straight up done with– 100%.
But I’ve made it nearly 25 years without her being disappointed. Except when I don a new tattoo.
Mom is a good sport. She always gets over it or gets used to it. But my mom’s disconcertion toward my new ink is a paradigm representative of how most people– under or over forty– feel about The Tattooed Masses.
Or is that just bullshit?
Tattooed people like to think that every new addition to our sidepiece is one small move for the inked, one giant step for shifting that paradigm.
Yah, I’m like, basically very alternative.
We also like to stare down The Untattooed, projecting upon them the judgement that anyone with a tattoo is irresponsible, imbecilic uncouth and uncivlized. Or just fucking dumb.
Or, we assume that those who haven’t been stabbed see us as inelegant and ridiculous.
The eyelids were a real bitch.
But the world, although it’s not a progressive place, per se, is an indifferent one. The only people who preoccupy themselves with worrying about what everyone else is doing with her life are the bored housewives and slutty teen girls of the world. And catty gay dudes.
But other than those terribly overgeneralized minorities, people don’t actually care what you do with your skin as long as you don’t slice it off in strips and eat it. Rather, they care whether you’re a worthwhile person.
Or they don’t care at all.
As the former, my mom’s initial shock at something new appearing forever on my arm, leg, rib cage or wherever else, is something that wanes away. She’s proud of who I am, what I’ve done, and where I’m going– as a mom should be. I
make fun of her furiously don’t judge her for loving kale and she puts up with my need to have pretty designs and words all up in my business, permanently.
A parent’s disappointment, however acute, pales in comparison to a parent’s indifference. “Parent,” of course, could be subbed out here for “friend,” “spouse,” “sibling,” or “person.” Stanley Kubirk, in an interview with Playboy, once mentioned that, “the most terrifying thing about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent.”
When I first read that, I liked it. I sort of live by it. I got it tattooed on my thigh. And terrifying is spelled wrong in that tattoo.
But let me ask you this: Do you care?
Because I don’t. It turns out, indifference has its place. And it’s place is woven right among the most “terriffying” parts of life. There are facets of everything, and everyone, that have to be ignored in order to be endured. Grab your time machine, jump back to at least the early nineties, and ask Viktor Frankl to tell you about humans’ ability to justifying perseverance in any situation. He wrote a pretty good book about that.
It was about the Holocaust, which he lived through. So the dude knew a thing or two about powering through.
My mom chooses indifference towards my tattooed life, I chose indifference toward her leafy greens.
I’m not saying my mom’s love of kale is in any way comparable to living through the Holocaust; however, if we want to make it through this life, we all have to endure a certain measure of unpleasant things. The better you are at practicing responsible indifference, the less hostile you’ll find your world.
(Unless your world is the Holocaust. Again, that was a pretty wimpy parallel, but I’m trying to make a point without being the most insensitive person alive.)