“Ink first found its way under my skin two years next month when I participated in the Lexington Tattoo Project. My chosen phrase—‘of the Universe’—hurt like hell while it became a permanent feature of my body and myself. (Seriously y’all, think long and hard about those chest pieces.) As it healed, as I grew accustomed to this new addition on my ribcage, the words began to take on a deep meaning for me, one that I had a hard time articulating and that didn’t find its full form until I decided to become a participant in Love Letter To the World as well.
Let me try to explain.
For as long as I can remember, I struggled with anxiety, depression, and an overwhelming feeling that I just didn’t belong anywhere. I moved through life with some sort of purpose, sure, but I was lacking something. Passion maybe? Happiness? Love? I looked high and low, here and there, inside and outside of myself.
I found what I was missing in the most unexpected of ways. During my final year of college, I adopted a bracelet that had belonged to my late grandmother (this in itself is a story for another time). Simple, delicate, and beautiful—a silver chain from which dangled a small kaleidoscope of butterflies, each with an affirming word engraved upon its reverse. This bracelet meant the world to me and for a short time I wore it every day. Then, one of the charms fell off. I was devastated until I looked down whilst walking to class one day to discover a shiny little winged creature just in front of my feet.
‘Harmony,’ it said to me.
And I realized that was exactly what I needed, what I should strive to achieve. More than anything else, I needed to find peace with myself, with my surroundings, with my place in the universe. I had always considered harmony to be something unobtainable and intangible, something that only existed within the most perfect combination of musical notes. But that day I realized it was something I could find within myself and my own heart. And I began to do just that.
Enter the LLTW poem. Frank X Walker’s words touched my soul in much the same way Bianca Spriggs’ ode to Lexington had done not long before. As I listened to him read, over and over, I felt at one with the world and its joy and its suffering. The words ‘on harmony’ were an obvious choice for me—I knew it was something I would be dwelling on and living with for the rest of my days.
I scheduled my appointment. I got my tattoo. I once again became part of something beautiful and so much bigger than myself. My note, my voice added itself to the worldwide symphony of LLTW tattoo bearers. In harmony.
On Harmony. Of the Universe.
I am both of these things and I am beyond grateful.
– katie b.”