So, I’ve been planning and tweaking my next tattoo for a while. I’ve wanted to do a half sleeve on my left arm, but as it’s such a prominent area, and such a big commitment, I wanted to make sure it would be perfect.
Imagine my surprise when I had a dream of the perfect tattoo while I was taking a nap this past week.
I dreamt of a brightly colored koi, but instead of swimming up, the way they’re traditionally done, the head was down. I immediately understood why.
The image of the koi swimming upstream is a reference to an old Chinese legend about a school of koi swimming up the Yellow River and trying to jump over a waterfall. The fish that finally makes it is transformed into a dragon, and lives in joy the rest of his days. It’s a symbolic representation of overcoming adversity, the koi fight and fight and fight, and are eventually rewarded by the gods.
I am all about working hard, but fighting is entirely too ingrained in my personality. “Piss and vinegar” is the technical term, I believe.
The reason my koi will be swimming downstream, is because I am sick of fighting. I’m sick of making life harder for myself, and an old friend of mine told me something once that I’ll likely never forget: “be like water.” For some reason, it resonated with me more than “go with the flow” ever did. It’s more elegant, and yet even simpler. I’ve wanted a water tattoo for a while. I love the water, I feel most at home in the water, I plan on having my children in water, and I want to be more like water.
“As the river cuts it’s path,
Though the river’s proud and strong,
He will choose the smoothest course,
That’s why rivers live so long.”
So I want my koi to be going with the flow. I don’t think it’s a bad thing not to always be fighting, you know? But the really cool thing I remember about the dream was the color in the fish. The scales were kind of a gradient, and around the outside of each individual scale, the color was a deep cerulean, like the blue of the open ocean on the clearest day (only sailors know the color, and I think that’s important for the tattoo’s purpose), but the inside was a lush green, so that from a distance, the koi would be a shimmering turquoise. I also think it’s interesting that I dreamed of these colors, because they are my fiancé’s favorites, and I love that.
I was also considering adding a few cherry blossoms or lotuses, floating down the river, which I really only want to be a suggestion, in the lightest blue, like the clearest spring-fed stream I drank from on top of Mount Katahdin years ago.
I can’t wait to get this tattoo, I hope I’m able to afford it, but for now, my primary concern is toning my arms, I’ve found that tattoos hurt less when they’re on muscle, as opposed to fat or bone. That, and I want it to look good! No flab on my fishy!