In recent years I've learned that sometimes it is pain, not joy, that moves you. The pain of loss, of challenge. Physical pain. Gut wrenching heartbreak. 

The pain of loss can rekindle a desire for family. The pain of heartbreak can push one to move on, to be independent. The physical pain of injury tell you to slow down or to stop. The pain of defeat can ignite change, inspire a movement. The pain of a tattoo reminds us that from it comes beauty, art. It reminds me to feel. To push through the challenges. To embrace who I was, who I am and who I will be through a single scar. 

So perhaps it's slightly ironic that my newest one is a reminder that there was always a time before pain, before hurt, before grief.  

The word "unstruck" is technically defined as "not struck". In yoga, it is said to be the state of the heart before anything happened to it. Before all this pain, even before love, it is the heart in it's purest state.  In Sanskrit it is anahata, the fourth chakra, or the heart chakra - associated with love, compassion, and joy, but also with pain, grief and sorrow. With a balanced heart chakra, you are open and compassionate, able to love and love unconditionally. You not only love others, but you love yourself as well. You understand the give and take in any relationship. You can be with someone, love them, without losing love or sight of yourself. You live from your heart, and enjoy the beauty in the world that surrounds us. You can experience pain and grief and sorrow, but you can accept it for what it is and not allow it to consume you.

This is what I struggle with, and this is what the tattoo serves as a reminder for.

Negativity and challenges and hardships have constantly taken a toll on me. I don't easily forget or move on, and I have a tendency to blame myself, to beat myself down for anything adverse that occurs in my life. I put others before myself, even when it might not be in in my best interest. I have a penchant for jealousy, and close myself off easily. It is the simple way out, and we all do it, and it is ok. Sometimes life is really, really hard. It can beat you down so much you might not want to get back up. Sometimes things happen that are beyond understanding, things that you may as well blame yourself for if there is no other clear answer. Sometimes there are things that take a lot of effort to move past and through and beyond. Those are the times you feel it physically in your chest. Your heart beats fast, your lungs feel small. These are the times to take a deep breath, choose to open your heart and accept, to find that place of love and compassion and understanding. To remember that through pain and heartbreak comes growth. And to know that although these things can never be erased, that even though your heart can never truly be "unstruck" again, you can let go and love. 


Jennifer Cook