Last year I got a tattoo of a black swan on the inside of my left wrist. Because I talk with my hands, people eventually notice it and ask what it is. Here’s the story:
In April 2014 we left Gainesville, FL with our new home in tow headed to California. On our way across the United States we stopped to visit family. One such stop was in Borger, TX where my parents were living. While in Borger we visited a city park which also housed some birds. One such bird was an Australian Black Swan. This stood out to me because my dear friend was currently reading a book called The Black Swan Effect and would tell me about it when we spoke. My curiosity was peaked and so I looked in to the idea of “black swans”. This is what wikipedia had to say:
The phrase “black swan” derives from a Latin expression; its oldest known occurrence is the poet Juvenal‘s characterization of something being “rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno” (“a rare bird in the lands and very much like a black swan”).:165 When the phrase was coined, the black swan was presumed not to exist. The importance of the metaphor lies in its analogy to the fragility of any system of thought. A set of conclusions is potentially undone once any of its fundamental postulates is disproved. In this case, the observation of a single black swan would be the undoing of the logic of any system of thought, as well as any reasoning that followed from that underlying logic.
Juvenal’s phrase was a common expression in 16th century London as a statement of impossibility. The London expression derives from the Old World presumption that all swans must be white because all historical records of swans reported that they had white feathers. In that context, a black swan was impossible or at least nonexistent. After Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh discovered black swans in Western Australia in 1697, the term metamorphosed to connote that a perceived impossibility might later be disproven. Taleb notes that in the 19th century, John Stuart Mill used the black swan logical fallacy as a new term to identify falsification.
I also took some pictures of the black swan in Borger for my friend.
Once we set off toward California from Borger, though, I didn’t think about black swans much anymore. I had lots of other things to concern myself with. For the next year, the Lord took us through a season unlike any other, and as we came to May 2015 I realized that I had experienced many “black swans” that year. Many beliefs I held, the Lord had proved untrue. Many things I believed impossible, the Lord had proved possible. I had been changed in ways I had never imagined.
My dear friend who had discussed black swans with me a year earlier was out in California by this time as well. We both were utterly different and we both had a desire to commemorate the differences with a black swan tattoo. Our tattoos look different and are in different places on our bodies, but they are always a reminder to never doubt or limit Jesus Christ. For in Him, all things are possible.
So that’s the reason I have a black swan tattoo. Do you have a tattoo? Any special meaning behind yours?