I know a woman who gets tattoos all the time. She acquires new tattoos the way I might buy a new pair of earrings. She wakes up in the morning and announces, I think I'll go get a new tattoo today. If you ask her what kind of tattoo she's planning on getting, she'll say casually, I dunno….I'll figure it out when I get to the tattoo shop. Or I'll just let the artist surprise me.Now, this woman is not a teenager. She's a grown woman with adult children, and she runs a successful business. She's also really cool, uniquely beautiful, and one of the freest spirits I've ever met.When I asked her how she could mark up her body so casually and so permanently, she said, Oh, but you misunderstand: It's not permanent! It's temporary.Confused, I asked, You mean, all your tattoos are temporary?She smiled like a sexy rock 'n roll Buddha and said, No, honey. My tattoos are permanent — it's my BODY that's temporary. And so is yours. We're here on earth for a very short while. I just want to decorate my temporary self as playfully and beautifully as I can, while I still have time.I love this so much, I can't even tell you.I myself am not covered with tattoos. (Although I do have two of them. Before I went traveling for Eat, Pray, Love, I had two words written into my forearms in white ink: COURAGE and COMPASSION.) But I do want to live the most vividly decorated temporary life I can. I don't just mean physically. I mean emotionally, spiritual, intellectually. I don't want to be afraid of bright colors, or big love, or major decisions, or new experiences, or risky creative endeavors, or sudden changes, or even great failure.

~ Elizabeth Gilbert