Cutting Against Your Own Grain

The company for which I work has a shutdown period that occurs between Christmas and New Year’s every year.  Truth be told, it’s a pretty darn nice benefit, especially given the fact that it’s a time of where I would be looking to take that time off regardless.  I have spent that time doing a variety of activities, depending on the year.  Sometimes I will chuck in a week of vacation right before it starts and I will end up being out of the office like 17 straight days.  Needless to say… it was freakin’ awesome.

This past year I decided I wanted to get myself going on a blog that I would consistently update and I wanted it to have a much more professional look and feel.  As I was reading something from the absolutely sublime Pamela Slim, I saw her mention an offer from this guy named Johnny B. Truant to set up a WordPress blog for you at a pretty reasonable cost.  Intrigued, I meandered on over to his site and was immediately hooked by his tag line of “The Internet made awesome.”  Plus he dropped a lot of amusing f-bombs in his posts that made me chuckle.  Have I mentioned before I often have the emotional maturity of an 11 year old?  Hmm.  Maybe that’s why youth baseball coaching appeals to me… I can relate.

Fast forward to today (a whole 4 and a half months) and I was perusing the blogs I enjoy.  I came across a post from Johnny entitled “Revolution and Evolution (part 1)“.  Seems the good Mr. Johnny has had a rough go of things over the last few years and despite never having ink in his entire life, he is going to get tattoos on both his arms.  He writes in that post:

I want a tattoo because I’ve encountered some adversity over the past few years and have fought successfully through it. That adversity left scars — very cool, very large scars with a story behind them. Only, they’re scars you can’t see. I kind of want the tattoos because I want people to be able to see those scars — and to be able to see them myself, so I’ll always remember what I’ve learned.

David Beckham

That really struck me.  See, I’m not exactly a wild child.  I’m basically a classic middle child – a bit of an overachiever, looking to please everyone and trying really, really hard to be nice all the time.  While I am definitely a complete goofball, I am also a little bit conservative in the sense I am not out there bungee jumping, wrestling bonobos or even getting tattoos.  Hell, I had an earring in college for 24 hours (almost to the exact minute) and then ditched it because I just didn’t think it was me.  I had it long enough to call my Mom and freak her out (which was very satisfying in its own right… sorry Mom!).

But I ain’t the guy that is living a super wild life in most sense of the word… and yet… I totally understand where Johnny is coming from and I have become more and more intrigued with the idea of getting a tattoo.  Seriously.

“Why, oh, WHY???” you may ask (at least almost everyone in my family would ask).  Good question.

I’ve never been opposed to the idea of getting a tattoo.  My problem has always been that if I am going to get something placed on my body for the rest of my damn life, it sure as hell better be something that speaks to core of who I am as a human being and who I aspire to be.  Anything less is absolutely unacceptable and I would never get a tattoo unless that firm requirement was met with a little room to spare.

Ahh, but I haven’t answered the paramount question of “Why?”  Like Johnny, I’ve had a few rough patches over the last few years and I have come through (well, mostly come through) on the other side a little nicked up and rough around the edges, but unbowed and I think I’m a better man because of all of it.  Plus, I am the sort of person who believes that in order to have a successful and fulfilling life, it’s important to have a set of principles on which to ground yourself.  I think that’s a lot of what helped me through some of my rougher times – that foundation of knowing who I was and who I wanted to be.

I want to be the guy who treats people the way I want to be treated… even if that other person is a douchebag.  I want to live with honor.  I want to live with integrity.  I want to live with determination.  I want to never be afraid to risk getting my heart broken because if I hold back, I’ll never get the chance at experiencing great love.  I want to live in balance (this one is hard for me).  I want to never forget how much of this life is a gift and I should never, ever, EVER take that for granted… because I’ve seen how life can jump up and kick some amazing people in the teeth without any provocation or sense of it being deserved.  Anyone can suffer that fate… so embrace the good and the opportunities you see now.

So I think I would get one to mark what I feel represents who I am and where I belong in this world.  I am slowly settled on a design in my head which I plan on keeping to myself.  I also think that if I end up going through with all of this, I would place it in a fairly discrete spot because I would be getting it as a reminder for myself and no one else.

Is any of this in character for me?  I want to say no and that’s why I entitled this post what I did… but as I sit and ponder, maybe it’s not that crazy and not all that strange.  Sometimes you have to take that big risk to get that big reward.  Time to get my butt up off the sidelines and into the game.  God help me.

15 Replies to “Cutting Against Your Own Grain”

  1. It is amazing to me how polarizing the subject of tattoos can be! The Harley-owning, chain-drive-wallet wearing tattooed circus freaks are no longer the majority when it comes to those with tattoos. In fact, I now know more successful, white-collar men and women who waited until much later in life to get their tattoos for the very reasons you cite. If the truth be told, I was 34 when I got mine and yes, it was, and still is, a personal statement of sorts. What and where? A girl has to have some secrets!

  2. Tattoos should tell a story…I have one and it def does- my life story. Yes, all in one little tattoo (that’s how I know I chose the right one) on my right shoulder blade. Having one more drawn up for me as we speak…to honor a milestone in my adult life. :o)

  3. Great post. I love your foundational principles – very much in line with mine. The more I think about getting a tattoo, the more I feel like I *need* to get one. As a right of passage. To show that I’m not the same person I was. It isn’t the rebellion thing that it was when I first thought about getting one years ago. Now I just need to find the right artist . . .

  4. Jessy – very jealous of your finding everything you wanted in your tattoo in one neat little package. I am hoping for something similar. Almost have the design down in my mind, not sure on location… oh and no idea who to do it!

  5. Jessica – I totally get that feeling of a need to mark a significant point in your life. It feels like we no longer have any kinds of rituals, ceremonies or rites of passage any more to mark these occasions in our ultra-modern world. I think that’s why it appeals to me (and maybe you as well?) I take it you have the design all worked out?

  6. I *think* I know what I want – at least in general. I suppose if I found a good artist, I would be game for some stylization. But yes – that’s a big part of why getting a tattoo appeals to me. It’s a rite of passage of sorts. I also think being a lapsed attorney has something to do with it. Getting a tattoo is so not like a corporate attorney. And I love that!

  7. Lapsed attorney – HA! I like that. Do you have a lot of attorney friends who are looking to escape? I know I do…

  8. Yes – lots of lawyer friends who really want to do something different (and doctor friends and business people friends too). So many of them are afraid to do it though. I’m kind of the rebel in my group now. If you knew me in person, you’d know how funny that is. I was always the good girl . . .

  9. Kevi, you know I would never be the one to ask “why, oh why” about the tattoo. I remember when I got my second tattoo right after I graduated college and I was still working at the university giving tours to high school prospects. I guess the tat on my back shoulder was revealed and after the tour a parent came up to me and told me they were surprised to see a young woman who was going to law school had a tattoo. I told the parent that I didn’t really see their conflict…that I highly doubted that having a tattoo was going to make me a “bad” lawyer. There you go with your box…someone trying to put me in it based on their expectations! People think they know me…smart girl, lawyer, businesswoman…my tattoos do not detract from any of that, but only a handful of people truly know ME. Each of my tattoos represent something significant to me; to my life, and in the end that is all that really matters!

  10. They try and try to put you in the box, Kel. Sometimes it may be OK, but for you and your tats, it never will be. 🙂

  11. Here in Oregon people love to cover themselves with tattoos. It’s sort of hobby with us. So I am always interested in seeing what others are doing and learning new things. Thanks for the post.

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