Better be sure about this one

I grew up in an environment where a tattoo was a sign for a prisoner or a seaman. “Normal” people would not have one. I used to judge when I saw people gettingtattoo_fully_healed tattoos: “This is permanent. Do they even know what they are doing?”

Guess what? I just joined the ranks of the above.

Would I have gotten a tattoo without my divorce? I don’t know.

But when we broke up 5 months ago one of the first things that came to my mind was getting a symbol for my new beginnings.

I wanted to express a number things and it wasn’t easy to do so without letters or words. Eventually I figured it out. Here is what it stands for:

CENTER PIECE
At the center of my back is an Aum sign. It is an Indian symbol that can be interpreted in many ways.

In my case it represents peace and harmony and uniting a number of threes into one.
i.e. Body, Mind and Soul into Oneness
or
Waking- Dreaming- Dreamless Sleep into a transcendental fourth state of consciousness

Aum is also the signifier of the ultimate truth that all is one.

The tribal sun around the Aum represents a source of energy.

LEFT LOTUS FLOWER
Lotus flowers are a sign for life in general and also symbolize the awakening to the spiritual reality of life.
The red & orange lotus flower to the left has a peace sign embedded. It represents nonviolent communication to me. A beautiful concept explained by Marshall Rosenberg in his book. Being in a peaceful state of mind also allows me to perform random acts of kindness. This concept that’s been sticking with me for a long time and is represented here as well.
Red and orange are warm colors for me.

RIGHT LOTUS FLOWER
The lotus flower to the right has a symbolic bridge embedded. Crossing a bridge often means heading to the unknown. I am entering uncharted territory. I don’t know what’s at the other end when I start walking. I am a little afraid but I am committed to that path. There will be new beginnings at the other end of that bridge. I’ll be crossing many more bridges in my life. This bridge reminds me to continue to do so.

Blue is a bit of a colder color. It stands for some of the fear associated with the bridge.

VINES & SHADOWS
The tribal vines connect me with the raw and wild piece inside myself.
The airbrush style shadowing represent my shadows. This serves as a reminder that they are always present. In Jungian psychology, the shadow or “shadow aspect” is a part of the unconscious mind consisting of repressed weaknesses, shortcomings, and instincts.

This is a tattoo has a lot of internal aspects. It is hidden since I hardly take my shirt off in public. You and I know it is there and what it stands for.

My legal divorce is happening while my tattoo is healing. Yes, symbols are pretty big in my book.

This entire process is a very big deal for me. I processed a lot of things will sitting on this chair, being in pain and making permanent changes to my body.

Some of you might be shocked. I went flat out from no body art to having a good part of my entire upper back covered. I hope the above explains a bit why I took this step. It put me in a better place.

Notes

  • This was a 5 1/2 hour excruciating process. Depending on your sensitivity this might be the worst pain you have experienced.
  • I had my own design and drawings. I knew for quite some time what I wanted. I would not recommend walking into a tattoo shop and being “spontaneous”. It is a permanent change to your body.
  • My tattoo artist Walter McDonald has been in the business for 14 years. He works at Lifetime Of Sol in Denver. It certainly gave piece of mind to work with someone who picked up on my ideas and drafts and who has done way over 5,000 tattoos. He put my vision into reality. Thanks Walter!

Here are some images showing the process and the final result.

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  • jke

    Mutig! Thx 4 sharing the motivation and spirit behind this. It sure looks interesting and clearly indicates that there's a reason for such a special tattoo no one else will have.

  • Thanks for your feedback. I don't consider myself that unique though. One of the reasons for this blog is to show to some others that there struggles might be the same as mine and that they are not alone. It helps a great deal with self pity if you know you are just in a pattern or based on some archetypes that a lot of others are stuck in as well.

    But this is not so much a symbol for struggles but rather a positive symbol. I couldn't bear wearing a reminder of struggles for the rest of my life. I'd break under its weight.

    So the layout might be unique. I'd be a little surprised if someone would show up tomorrow telling me that I copied his/her idea. My tattoo artist was shaking his head numerous times and kept asking me if I was sure about this ;-)

    There are tons of ways to express what I (and others) am feeling and stand for. I chose one route – but there are certainly other less painful ways ;-)

  • flawnt

    wow, you exerted due diligence where other fools simply rush in. good on you, mate! love all the symbolism. of course, while the pain was for you, the images are for others (unless you also move on to embedding a pair of new eyes in the back of your head)!

  • I can actually see the tattoo quite well without eyes on my back. You were not the first one to mention this. Of course there is an external aspect of wearing body art but this goes a little deeper under my skin than some other ideas I had in my mind prior to that.

    The symbols will certainly “stick” with me ;-)

  • jennyjenjen

    Wow! I was definitely quite shocked. Looks pretty awesome though… congrats!

  • I am in awe. For many reasons. I typically shy away and judge body art. It has never been clear to me why people feel the need to express themselves this way. It always cried out 'I need attention' to me. I was also told growing up that if I ever got a tattoo or rode on a motorcycle my mother would disown me. I haven't done either. She must have scared me!

    I often look at body art as people's way of trying to establish themselves as “different or unique.”

    After reading your post I feel more sensitive toward the experience and the stigma I have held for so many years. Yes, it is a way for someone to perhaps etch a special message in a sacred place. I think you have done a beautiful job with the art, with the coloring and the meaning. It seems real and a real crossroads for you. A reminder of where you have been and where you will go. Gutsy.

    Thanks for sharing this. You have helped me see in a different way around body art. I suppose we all have our messages and symbols; we all express in the ways that feel right. I am so glad I read this.

  • Thanks so much Ashley. I feel that the roles between the two of us might very well be reversed here. My family raised me the same way – even though there is not too much to disown me from ;-)

    Somehow I took that mysterious step to make my decisions based on what I feel is right and important to me. I know I will be judged for my body art. And maybe there is something in it for me here as well because it is humbling, keeps me in check and offers opportunities to reach out.

    So far the response has been quite overwhelming. This blog post saved me a lot of talking and trying to explain. There is a difference between something lookig nice and what the underlying meaning is. I will now be reminded permanently of what I should be focusing on.

    I am glad I took this step.

  • saltywalt

    thank you klaus!! you rule dude!!

  • Walter, a lot of people gave me very positive feedback. And apparently you are known all across town. Our world is full of people that pretend to know their job. You are not one of them.

    If you ever need a reference you know can use my name.

    Thanks again.