Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Language Barrier

It's like speaking another language.
Oh wait.. right.

I've never taken Spanish lessons. But I'm wonderful at picking up accents, so despite my lack of vocabulary, knowledge of the grammar structure, understanding of others and complete ability to communicate at all- I'm set.

I've been in Mexico now for about a week and a half- two and a half more weeks left. It's amazing how fast time flies. El tiempo nunca es sufficiente. There is so much to learn, so much to see and experience, I couldn't possibly put a time limit on it- and if I had to, I'd definitely give myself more than a few more weeks here.

Originally, my goal for this summer was "learn Spanish." Ambitious, no? The plan was to trek across my own country, then head off to Mexico for a month, and then ship myself down to Costa Rica for a month, and return to SoCal, a fluent Spanish speaker. Well, for a number of reasons, the Costa Rica portion of my plan never panned out, and I've come to a few realizations about language.

A friend of mine can communicate with a certain level of ease in both Mandarin and Spanish (and English)- to the extent that most people would call him fluent. Except here's what he says about fluency: "language is a tool that points beyond itself but is not what it represents and thus true fluency is impossible." Language is akin to the hammer and nail necessary to put a door in a wall. Our words expresses the ability that the door represents to move from one room to another, however, the hammer(language) is the tool to achieve such an end. I remember him making the point to me once that we are not nearly fluent in ENGLISH, how can we possibly ever master any language? Language is one of many tools for communication- for connecting with others- and WE are constantly changing. The way in which we connect is therefore in constant flux. It is constantly being adapted to suit the needs of the people using it. Think of the slang used so frequently in the US, the turns of phrases that make zero grammatical sense and the trends in speech that have risen and fallen even within the last few decades- It becomes clear that fluency is merely an elusive and impractical idea that exists only within the limits of the world of external form- the world we live in. In reality, spoken language is already at LEAST one step away from the core of what we want to express. We have a sensation, a feeling or an experience, then we have biases, previous experiences and emotional attachments that then shape the energy generated by that sensation/emotion/whatever and then we translate that energy into thoughts in the language we've been exposed to, all in attempt to communicate our personal experiences to others.

All of a sudden, the phrase, "lost in translation," takes on a whole new meaning.

Upon arriving in Mexico, I was excited beyond belief, and overwhelmed on a dimension with which I was unfamiliar. And though I'd been to India previously, and had lived with a family that spoke no English, that experience included a New York native room-mate and minimal emphasis on the homestay life. This, however, is different. My homestay is a huge part of my experience here, and community engagement is just as important as the Spanish class I'm registered in (for credit). And even though I'd been looking forward to this trip, literally since early December, it hadn't really sunk in just how foreign this was going to feel. Until I got here. The first night in Temixco, we had dinner as a class in what became our out-door classroom, sat around a table and we each took our turns sharing what we thought we'd miss the most while being here. But we did it en Español. I think I mumbled something about amigos.


Part of the structure of this program includes "service sociale"- roughly "community service." Two days a week for about 2 or 3 hours we break up into groups and share time and space with children who live at the "Conviviencia," somewhat of an equivalent to Family Child services in the States. After our first session there, a friend of mine who is pretty darn comfortable in the Spanish language related to me what one of the 6 year old girls told her- that some of the children are there because their parents were abusive, but not all. Many have obvious developmental disorders, or extreme physical limitations, many are on medications, most are aggressive in some way, and they're all in need of love. Children are brought to the Conviviencia anywhere between 3 days and 12 years old, after 12, I don't know where they go.

This was the setting for the deepest understanding I've had as of yet of this notion of a language barrier.

Jessica, somewhere between 6 and 8 years old, sat on the ground. Her hair is cut short, presumably so she doesn't pull it out. Her moreno face is thin and her eyes are big, and searching. Her mouth is gaping open, revealing angular and angry teeth, twisting from the pain of being unable to express herself with them. Saliva drips from her lips as though in an effort to get something, anything, out. Her frame is small, her body bony and she looks deceivingly fragile. I think her strength surprised more than just me. Her legs are deviant. Her knees seem to be glued together, locked at an inconvenient angle making it impossible to walk. Her feet are crooked- the flowers on the end of a vine winding, lost and in search of the sun, pulled this way and that until her body surrendered. Her wheelchair is somewhere around the playground, serving as a toy for the time being. I watch her from a moderate distance for a few minutes as she grips her claws on the grass beneath her, as though she resents having to be so close to the Earth. She lets out random cries and painful screams, alternately pounding her fists on the ground and on her head. I imagine it must be loud in there.
-One of the caretakers informs us that she's just having a "tantrum."

But how can any of us possibly know for sure? Perhaps it is naive, but she seemed to be in such deep pain, it strikes me as negligent and downright cruel to dismiss her cries. But, perhaps this is a cultural difference, a childcare technique with which I am unfamiliar, and who am I to challenge it?
I think, however, that if the categorization of her behavior as a tantrum is not accurate, and these professional caretakers can't make sense of Jessica's form of communication, how in the world can I?
How can I possibly know what she's thinking? Her language exists in a different dimension and my linguistic communication can’t touch her. Even if the sounds I made fell somewhere close to her ears, and even if I knew what she wanted to hear, Merriam Webster couldn’t explain to her what I want to say. And who’s to say my thoughts would help at all?

Monday, June 28, 2010

If You Can't Stand the Heat, Get Out of the Kitchen.. or Mexico.

There's something about sweating. I like it.

I'd been in a sweatlodge before. A Native American one in Southern California with the Costanoan-Rumsen/Ohlone tribes. It is a ritual, a ceremony- and it was an honor to take part in it. There were four "doors," (sections of time) each with their own focus, prayers and songs to accompany them. Women wore long skirts and covered their shoulders- jewelry had to be removed (unless given permission to wear it, but metal was fairly dangerous in there), each participant gave a tobacco offering and a prayer to the fire before entering the sweatlodge and each person was told to ask both his or her ancestors and the elder running the lodge for permission to enter.
This experience exposed me to the patience, and the faith required to "take the heat." To trust that my body could handle it, that a little discomfort is actually alright, and that indeed that discomfort, if allowed to move through it, opens the space for growth. I remember feeling quite peaceful in that sweatlodge. At the conclusion of the final door, the elder who was running the session, Robert John, asked each participant how they felt, and he pushed them to answer using the format, "I feel _____ like _____." He pushed us to connect our experience with something outside of the experience itself. At the time this direction seemed silly, but looking back now a few months later, it was an exercise in bringing the experience into our daily lives. I don't actually remember how I responded, but I know that I use the same phrasing more frequently in order to 1) connect more directly with others by using a common experience as the intermediary, and 2) maintain the sense of peace I feel when meditating, practicing yoga, or when I'm in a sweatlodge, for instance- even when I'm not in those circumstances.
I remember also feeling a much deeper appreciation for my breath during that first sweat experience. It was intensely hot, and incredibly humid for the entirety of the 3 (ish) hours of the sweat, and I was in the innermost circle of participants, which means that I was closest to the stones giving off the heat and steam. And although there were undeniable moments when I thought I'd gasp for air and find none, I always did. I surprised myself with my own ability to breathe, to continue to live in spite of circumstances that my own cognition deemed to be "too difficult." It was a lesson in faith, in the faith that I, and we, can usually do things we don't think we can.

However, not all sweats are created equal.

I've now experienced three additional sweats- in Mexico. The traditional Mexican/Indigenous (not sure the specific tradition) sweat is called a Temezcal, and as with any sweatlodge, it is designed to be a metaphoric re-entry into the Mother's womb (Mother Earth- Tierra Madre). My first Temezcal brought me in a very physical way, back to the womb.
I entered, feeling overwhelmed, internally frustrated, feeling stuck and sensing some sort of tension within myself. I don't even remember what Estella (the woman who owns the sweatlodge, provides the opportunity to sweat and orchestrates the sessions) was saying when I began to cry, but I was surprised by how it felt- foreign, like I had never cried before, and never-ending, like I'd never stop. There was this stagnant river that began to flow. I cried like a baby. Estella had the five of us each scream our own names individually and then we all screamed them back. I screamed my name, proclaimed my existence, as though saying, "Hello, universe! I am HERE!" But its not as though the universe needs reminding, we do. Or I did. I screamed my name, and they screamed it back to me, reaffirming my existence, my presence, my importance perhaps too. I cried harder, waking up to myself. If only a little bit.

We went around in turns, each of us in the womb, screaming, asking for whatever it was we needed, from whomever we felt we needed it from. Permission to let go of whatever we no longer needed, and the strength to hold on to that which we needed to hold. Whatever it was. And we cried. Or at least, I did.

After the sweat, I wrapped myself in a sheet and sat in Estella's backyard, drank tea, and attempted to regain a bit of equanimity and to steady my breath a bit. My teacher came over, squatted down next to me and offered with her presence a sense of security, of comfort- and I looked up at her and said, though grammatically incorrect, "jamás finito"- I'm never done. I tried to express my combined sense of hopelessness and being overwhelmed with the minuscule amount of Spanish I have. She met my eyes and replied, with a smile on her face, "Qué bueno, no?" And all I could do was laugh.

Si. Qué bueno. Porque, así es la vida. Such is life. To never be done is to be alive.

Entonces- Sweat on.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Love Letter to the US. Part 2.

As I mentioned previously, I've never been much of a 'patriot.' Because of the fact that American politics frustrated me, I was constantly seeking some other national identity, some ethnicity with which to associate. Being, however, a white, European mut, I didn't have much in terms of ethnic support. I romanticized other cultures, India in particular, but also indigenous subgroups; more recently Native Americans and indigenous peoples of Mexico and South America. This is not unusual: many of the readings for my classes had a tendency to view these cultures through rose-colored glasses. Reading I did independently showed the same inclination in terms of the need to 'get back to our roots,' eat, live, and pray like our ancestors did. "YES!" I thought, but my problem was a disconnection between myself and my ancestors, my past, or my 'roots.'

And I don't think this is necessarily an uncommon problem, at least in the US, most of us would be considered multi-racial, multi-cultural, or something along those lines, if not utterly lost, grasping at some elusive idea of identity in our "melting pot." Because of globalization there are very few "pure-bloods" left. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing the co-mingling of cultures, intersecting beliefs, or transforming the tapestry of humanity from a patchwork quilt into a tie dye mess with all the colors seeping into one another. I, myself, was raised by interfaith parents: my father grew up Roman Catholic, my mother, a good ol' Jew, but here's the rub: what am I?

And I guess that's where it gets complicated for everyone, interfaith, multicultural, biracial, or not. But that certainly doesn't help. And while I've only recently discovered a love for my native land (relatively speaking) I am now beginning to explore the land and culture of Mexico. I've always thought of Mexico in terms of Hispanic culture, but I realize now after being here for several days, attending a lecture or two and visiting museums that so much of this world has lost its culture. Colonization has wiped out so many rich indigenous heritages, destroyed native languages and pushed vastly diverse people into discrete categories. There are so many indigenous peoples living in Mexico without recognition who are forced to speak Spanish or who are looked down upon for speaking their own languages. While Hispanic culture is a large part of the history of Mexico, there are also many more roots running deeper in the hearts and souls of the people and in the soil Hernán Cortés's castle was built upon.

Mexico is beautiful in many ways, but I am also painfully aware of the incredible injustice and hardships that face the people here. In a lecture given by an ex-patriot from California (he said he was "kicked out" by Reagan) and currently a professor at the University in Mexico City, Ross Gandy, outlined the socioeconomic history of Mexico over the last century or so. I couldn't possible lay it all out as neatly and understandably as he did, but he drew connections from the educational system to the dietary problems of youth in Mexico to the large corporations of soft drink and the discovery that the water in Mexico is somewhat contaminated with parasites. When this information was made public, government officials subsidized the sugar sales to large soft drink corporations; most significantly Coca-cola (but also 34 others) and thus "solved" the water problem- "let them drink coke!" Then Mexico, the US and Canada signed NAFTA and subsidized corn from the US was cheaper than locally grown crops in Mexico and thus farmers in the countryside, already marginalized, are now out of a legitimate job and are forced to engage in the narco-economy, be street vendors or to be dependent on their children (many in the US, legally or 'illegally'). And then we push them to the wayside because they aren't our problem..?
And that's just the beginning.
The top 10%, superrich of the population in Mexico have nearly full control of the government. Much of this portion of the community is composed of CEOs or beneficiaries of big international corporations (Coke, anyone?). 50% of the population in Mexico above 16 years of age cannot read above a 7th grade level. 1.5% of the population read a newspaper regularly. And here's why. In the 1940's, President Cardenas created 34 teacher training schools in rural areas as a part of a literacy campaign. He wanted residents of the countryside to become teachers in the countryside, and not go to the city for jobs so that those marginalized areas could prosper. During industrialization in the 1950's, those schools began producing intelligent, independent minded radicals, and so the schools were phased out. Literacy down. Now, one half of all electricity is provided free for Mexicans... because the government wants everyone to have a television- it may not have cable or HD, but it will have televisa- the channel that is owned and operated, and censored by the government (which, by the way receives its revenue from that 10%, megacorps.) And so that station runs Coca-cola commercials all day long and telenovellas featuring 'peasants' who somehow climb the socioeconomic ladder and end up living in the lap of luxury. Que bueno, no?

While there is certainly a lot more I could find to say about the socioeconomic position of this country, I'm not sure if I'm able to articulate it all at this moment. It might just make me angry, and that's not productive.

What I can say, however, is that I am thoroughly enjoying my time here. I'll take another post to explain exactly how the time is spent- or not exactly, but mas o menos. I also may begin speaking Spanglish.

On a side-note, for those in Los Estados Unidos, I suggest you turn off your a.c. for a night, sleep with minimal clothing, a thin sheet and the window open a crack. In the morning, take a cold shower - don't think about how cold it'll be, just jump in.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Love Letter to the US. Part 1.

I have never been much of a patriotic person. I've been raised a liberal, in a liberal family, in a liberal town in a conservative country for most of my life (with the exception of the Clinton years, but my mind was nowhere near politically oriented)- until Obama's election. I grew up with very little appreciation for the freedom I had, simply because I had been made aware of the things wrong with the way the country handled affairs. I never quite felt the pride of an American on the Fourth of July, I avoided wearing red white + blue together in an outfit, for fear of being labeled a flag-waving nationalist, I joked about moving to Canada for better health care, and ripped on the United States for most of the Bush (x2) years.

It was kind of fun, this self-deprecating anti-patriotism; it gave me a political stance when I would not have really had one since I hardly ever read beyond the comic section in the newspaper and despised the news. It was an easy opinion to hold: hate. It didn't require much thought, only a kind of senseless emotional response. There was a sort of twisted pride in pridelessness and it set me apart somewhat from the majority of students in my conservative high school full of Ford-driving, flag-waving, loyalist Uhmuricans! My self-proclaimed identity as a peaceful, "make art not war," hippie LOVER, translated into being, essentially, a HATER. How ironic.

I just drove across the United States. Twice. First with my Sister and my dad from Portland, Oregon, up to Washington mostly on I-80 eastbound through Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and finally New Jersey, where my parents' house is. This was a very important experience. Everyone should take a cross country road trip with people they don't quite understand yet. Enough said (for now).

Two weeks later, I drove westbound, mostly on I-70, slightly further south from the eastbound route. This time, I drove alone. Again, I highly recommend it. While driving with my family was incredibly beneficial and enlightening, this journey was even more so. Scratch that- I can't compare them- they were both amazing experiences, only in different ways. I can now confidently say that this Jersey girl can pump her OWN gas.

A couple of observations and bits of lessons I learned about the itty-bitty bit of country I drove through and the journey through it:
1. GPS is nice- BUT, dude, learn to read a map. You never know when you might accidentally leave your driver's side door unlocked for two days while you go on a backpacking trip in the Colorado mountains. You never know if someone might steal your GPS. You also never know when someone might restore your faith in humanity by making you THINK someone stole your GPS when they actually took it off your windshield and hid it between the driver's and the passenger seat so that no one ELSE might steal it.
2. Understand that being on a road is being in a community of people, traveling together. Stop racing, realize that a turning signal is NOT a courtesy, but rather, it is an ingredient to good driving. That said, when someone has their signal on: let them in the lane.
3. People do not drive the same everywhere. Jersey drivers are pretty near the top of the list of inconsiderate states in terms of driving etiquette. Missouri, too.
4. Cross the Mississippi river. Think about Huck-Fin.
5. Give the Mid-West a chance. Kansas is kind of beautiful in its simplicity.
6. Not every place is elegant, picturesque, or exotic. Every place is, however, beautiful. Learn to find the beauty.
7. The US is pretty darn big- no Soviet Union, I know, but still, pretty darn big. More than that, though, the US is very diverse in terms of people, landscape and culture. See it, open up to it, don't judge it, appreciate it.
8. The environment you live in shapes you, no doubt. The US is composed of a vast range of landscapes and those areas produce an equally vast range of people. In my experience on the east coast (18 years growing up in New Jersey etc.) you generally cannot SEE the Earth, unless you seek it out. No obvious mountains (with, of course, a few commodified exceptions). Beaches are privatized, land is owned, and dominated. Houses are built, and man-made lakes and hills are erected. Dams are built to control natural sources of water and wildfires are suppressed (true in most places- not just the east coast, true). Many of these things are not true in other places. In Kansas, for example, your vision is not obstructed by mini-malls, mega-malls, superstores or freeways, etc- you have the ability to see miles and miles around you in any given direction. You have the opportunity to witness the incredible beauty and vastness of the Earth. It's no wonder a belief in God and Creationism has a big presence there. Driving through the mountains and canyons in Colorado and southbound California, you become acutely aware of your meager size. It's very humbling. These formations would not be dominated. It's no wonder much of these areas are active in "Green" movements.
9. ALWAYS have an empty container. Just in case. Of emergencies. ALWAYS have an energy drink. Even if you never open it. Even if you open it, just to taste it.
10. A solo cross country road trip is a great time to learn a language. There are tons of "Learn [insert language here] Behind the Wheel!" programs, and you can repeat the phrases without feeling stupid. Ipod car adapters are nice, but turn on the local stations once in a while. In Utah especially. You'd be surprised how much of the country has country music radio stations.

In concluding part one, I'd like to distinguish myself, a lover of my country, different, however, from a patriot or a nationalist. I am infatuated with the landscape of the US and am fascinated by its people. I am not (yet) a lover of the politics imposed on the land and corrupted by the greed and power hungry motives of it's people. (disclaimer, not all motives are greedy or power hungry and not all the people are engaging in those motives)
To the land of my country: I love you; you are beautiful. I promise to someday bring my children to see and to be shaped by your vast glory. Except New Jersey- with you, I am done.
Hello, US! Hello, World! Goodbye, NJ! (and to all those in the dirty: come visit me, wherever I may be!)

Friday, June 11, 2010

whales and berries

When I was younger, and other kids were the captains of kickball teams, learning piano or excelling in school, I was a "GOOD EATER." I ate all my vegetables, I finished my plate every night at dinner and rarely complained (until later) about what Mom served. Mom would always say that I was such a GOOD eater.

Now, years later, after continued nutritional counseling, innumerable hours of independent research and reading about nutrition, diet and health, I am still terribly confused. There's a ton of information out on the web, in bookstores and libraries, infomercials and television programs about what is really good for us. We hear all this commotion about the latest "super-food,""the ultimate diet,""power-food combos," "raw food," "real food," "vegan food," "the 29 healthiest foods," "cancer fighting foods," etc. etc. The list never stops.

So what's really going on here?

I've been reading this book, "Nourishing Traditions" which talks about the "politically correct nutrition," the nutritional information given by the USDA, health studies, and just more common sources for the masses in general. The author, Sally Fallon, argues that the information we see and hear on a daily basis, is ultimately biased, studies funded by large corporations and pharmaceutical companies, paying to make sure the published results support their products- things like Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Nabisco cookies and Phillip Morris. She says these "diet dictocrats" are providing us with information that is not only false but endangering our health. One example of this is the nearly universal belief in our culture that fat is BAD. Recently, there have been a lot more publicity on the different kinds of fats; distinguishing between good fats and bad fats, saturated and unsaturated etc. This is a step in the right direction but it does not give credit to the actual truth. Another example, is the fear of cholesterol- every adult over 50 takes some pill in the morning to lower their cholesterol, we all choose the "cholesterol-free" foods in the grocery store and the doctor continues to use scare tactics to keep us from clogging our arteries. However, Fallon illustrates that we do in fact NEED some cholesterol in our system to function optimally. In fact, she poses a correlation between a rise in the frequency of heart disease in the US with the average American diet lowering the intake of cholesterol. The things we think are HELPING are actually HURTING us!

Ergo, confusion.

Further, Fallon talks about the craze of a Vegetarian or Vegan diet being touted as "the healthiest way to eat." However, she then cites a number of studies that related the diet of different cultures to their rate of longevity. This study blew my mind. ALL of the countries with the highest rates of longevity were those that kept a diet high in animal protein and animal fat. One of the cultures discussed was that of the Eskimos of Alaska- who tend to eat large amounts of raw meat and fish, even whale blubber. So while I have been following somewhere between a pescatarian (fish, egg, dairy eating vegetarian) and a vegan diet (no meat, no fish, no dairy, no eggs, no animal byproducts) for almost five years, I am now faced with some information that directly challenges my long-held belief that vegetarianism is the way to go. While I continue to find lots of evidence supporting raw food lifestyles, veganism and vegetarianism, I am also continually bombarded with arguments to the contrary. I find myself frantically asking myself- whales or berries, whales or berries, whales or berries?

The solution, I think, may be a balance. whales AND berries. Figuring out what you need to honor within yourself, and finding what feels good to you. At a workshop about Native Ute Indians this weekend, I spoke to a woman during a break about all of this food-related-confusion in our culture, and I asked, sort of rhetorically, "What are we supposed to do?!" She responded, wise as she is, "You try." So, here I go, trying. Or trying to try at least. We must go through this arduous process of figuring out what works FOR US, and we must know that it will undoubtedly be different for each individual person. It's a frustrating realization that there cannot be one absolute formula for health but one thing's for sure, it's a worthy process. The ultimate goal is, after all, health.
All else springs forth.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

On the Nature of Everything.

This Too Shall Pass.

A few days ago I was talking with my sister about evolution, as she just graduated with a Degree in Biology and she spent her senior year thesis-ing on the evolution of a particular species of frog. Anyway, she helped to unfold a misconception I had held about evolution. I had the process framed in my mind as a kind of preparation for the future. WRONG, she told me. Rather, evolving is all about being in the moment (something we hear so much about these days), about responding to the surrounding environment, circumstances and stimuli in THIS very moment, and coincidentally if we respond well now, we may have better chances of producing offspring later- which is the part of Darwin's theory I think most people focus on, but it is more of a bonus rather than the actual process of evolution.

So, in evolving, which we're doing in each moment, there is no sense of a future, there is only this moment. Each moment is different from the previous and different from the next. We are constantly evolving, adapting to the new moment, a new environment or situation- therefore we are constantly changing- constantly pushing things around us to evolve. So we co-create reality- our environment, the universe and ourselves- all being reinvented in every moment. Everything changes, and it changes all the time.

Let's put that on the back-burner for a minute. Sounds good.

I have three tattoos, a nose ring, a buzzed head and several ear piercings (all of which represent some concept, or commemoration). I'm big into physical manifestations- I like bodily expressionism, and I have been exploring the world of body modification. I am also in recovery from an eating disorder and so I've been involved in some sort of bodily preoccupation for a while. I've recently been thinking quite a bit about the implications of these things. How far is it healthy or acceptable to take this? Are they even healthy to engage in to begin with? Are these body modifications (tattoos, piercings, hair styles and colors) simply another way of expressing the eating disorder- after all, they are both bodily manifestations of abstract concepts, ideas, or notions of flaws or inadequacies. Can I even draw a correlation between them or are they the same thing, being expressed in more or less socially acceptable ways?

I've thought a great deal about the meanings, intentions and mentalities that went into each of my tattoos and in the design and decision to get them. Generally speaking, I think what draws this semi-permeable membrane between modification and mutilation is the intention and reason with which someone goes into getting a tattoo. If the motivation is coming from a positive place within yourself- all thumbs up! If the motivation is to please others- think twice! And if the motivation is some sort of self-destructive negative pressure from within yourself- NO GO!

A lot of people say they wouldn't get a tattoo because it's so permanent, and what if they don't want it when they're 80? My response goes like this:
"A tattoo is about as permanent as your body, which by the way- isn't permanent! Everything changes, and certainly there is practically nothing I can think of that I'm sure I'd want to have on my body when I'm 80 or the years between now and then. BUT, that being said, these moments are important and deserve being remembered, if for no other reason than to remind myself that at some point in my life these things were important to me, even if they have lost some of their weight over the years. Just as all these experiences create who I am becoming as a person (which is also always changing) my body is a physical representation of that person, and all of those things are a part of me, they are a part of my body now too. So even if I change as a person, the moments that inspire body modification necessarily are a part of whatever changes I go through in the future."
How's that?

NOW. Back to evolution.
If, as theory goes, I am adapting and evolving to my environment and responding to stimuli in every moment (responding by getting tattooed) I inevitably will change in the next moment as well. So if in this new moment, the new me has a new tattoo, I am continuing to alter my environment which is altering me (and back and forth and back and forth etc.) I only continue to engage in this interaction with my universe and it with me in a different way- expressing to the world around me what I've learned and gained from these interactions and illustrating my perpetual growth in a physical way.

So if the nature of everything is that it changes, and people are looking for something they will ALWAYS want on their body FOREVER, well then you'll never get a tattoo. BUT if you're living for the moment, and truly evolving, well then you'll be like me eventually, 80 years old, covered in tattoos- the COOL GRANDMA.