For a long time, I had been somewhat interested in getting a tattoo, but could never quite think of the right design. (Recently a friend clarified why I’d been cautious when describing his tattoos as shrines – it’s not just a random bit of art if you do it right, it’s actually something fairly significant.)
When blogging on my IT blog though, I did a topic about “fake” support contracts, which prompted me to remember the legend of Icarus.
If you’re not familiar with it, Icarus and his father Daedalus in Greek mythology were imprisoned by King Minos. In order to escape, they fashioned wings using feathers held together by wax. Fleeing their prison, Icarus enjoyed the sensation of flight too much, flew too high, and the heat of the sun melted the wax holding his wings together and fell into the sea and his death.
It’s a powerful parable and holds special meaning to me. I work in backup and recovery, and so my entire career is about risk, risk mitigation and failure recovery. But it’s actually deeper than that for me; much of my life I’ve spent avoiding risk, and so while Icarus represents the potential disaster of taking a risk, Icarus can equally represent the simple fact that failing is just another part of life. Sure, Icarus died, but maybe his last thoughts were that he’d touched the sun, and it was worth it…?
So for me the story of Icarus is a constant reminder to me that life is about taking risk, and sometimes the potential cost of failure is worth the potential success. It’s about realising that I don’t want to come to the end of my days with a bunch of regrets about things I didn’t do, and so I’ll care less and less over time about what people think. I’m here as me, not as the perceptions of others, and the story of Icarus is a pointed reminder to take those risks.
Remarkably, Icarus was to be my first tattoo – my first shrine, as you will. Not to myself – I’m anything but narcissistic; but as a reminder that risk is about the rewards as well as the costs. Thanks to an incredibly talented artist friend, the end of the first session is:
That’s the outline for Icarus done, plus some of the shading. Still to come is the rest of the shading, then colour, sun, sky, etc.
One thing I’ll say is that it’s certainly an addictive process – particularly since my skin seems to deal with the process quite easily. The test will be to determine how to convert this into a full sleeve, and I’ve already got some ideas on that. But that’s another story, to be told another time.