A profound change in career, a clinical diagnosis and that perpetual search for purpose moved a friend to immortalize his milestones by way of skin art. On his body, he celebrates the music and words that inspire him, one journey after the other.
1st Tattoo is the Kanji form of the word “anarchy”. It is taken from a Sex Pistols song “Anarchy In The UK”. I got this tattoo in January 2000 to mark a change in career which I felt I finally found – teaching. I consider all my tattoos milestones in my life since I don’t journal nor take pictures of my experiences.
The word “anarchy” to me symbolized my life pre-teaching — a life very much dictated by anti-authoritarianism, fighting against the MAN. Although I am still against the MAN, it’s more subtle, not like when I was younger when it was more overt.
2nd Tattoo is a line drawing of a Kiwi bird which I got in April 2001 after my third Bungee Jump in Queenstown, New Zealand. Some people commented that teaching was a thankless job, but going on a month long backpacking trip to NZ was my way of saying that this career will take me to places of adventure.
Note: a day before departing NZ, I decided to watch a film called “Memento” by Christopher Nolan . It was about a guy who had short-term memory loss and was accused of killing his wife. The film is shown backwards, and for the protagonist to remember details he will soon forget, he decides to tattoo his memories which he believes will lead him to the real killer.
After this film I decided that all my tattoos would be text.
3rd Tattoo: Dec 2003, a few months after my 30th birthday, I was diagnosed as clinically depressed and was using anti-depressants for 2 years. The medicine left a vivid haze in my head that wouldn’t go away, but the first week of taking the meds was the worst — I couldn’t think straight, I wasn’t eating, I was sleeping all day. As for my activity, I was putting on CD’s, one after the other.
One song finally made me wake up and get out of the rut – “Dear Prudence” by The Beatles (from the White Album).
To simplify, I’d like to think of it as my “Second Chance” song.
The line is: “She’s got everything she needs, she’s an artist, she don’t look back.” It’s from the Bob Dylan song “She Belongs to Me”, written for his then-muse Joan Baez. If a girl doesn’t return my affection, this is the line that I play in my head to rationalize her decision, and to lessen the shock of the rejection.
5th and 6th, December 2006: “1921″ by The Who (from Tommy) and “Miracleman” by Elvis Costello (from My Aim is True).
Favorite Lyric From 1921: “I have no reason to be over-optimistic, but sometimes when you smile I can brave bad weather.”
From Miracleman: “Why do you always have to say that someone can do it better than I can, don’t you think I know that walking on water won’t make me a miracleman”.
These lyrics just inspired my entire year, I chose to put the song titles above the Bob Dylan Tattoo and below the NZ tattoo.
7th and 8th, Summer 2007: “Shhhh, Peaceful” from my favorite Miles Davis album, “In a Silent Way”. I needed a tattoo to balance the aggressive “Anarchy” tattoo, so I put this song title below it. I still listen to this song when I am highly stressed — it calms me down.
“Love Vigilantes” by New Order was to symbolize the change in career that I was feeling, I was at a point where I wasn’t sure that being a school teacher was still my path. A few weeks later, I quit the school I was working at, flew to NYC and stayed there for a month.
9th, January 2009: “Dancing Barefoot” by Patti Smith. Dancing Barefoot is a 5 minute song with more than ten stanzas, I chose my Top 5 and it’s written on my entire left back. It’s a song about devotion and loyalty, I had it inked when I found Bikram Yoga.
We met when we were both working in the same faculty room more than a decade ago, barely keeping our acquaintance to a mere “hi-hello”. It was when we both left the school that we became friends as we found ourselves teaching together in another school once again. He is done with his finance classes and has moved on from the world of the academe.
Today, he dedicates his life helping people with their breakthroughs by way of Bikram Yoga.
Hi DC, this is most inspiring — and very insightful! Thank you, thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. By the way, how do you check for typos? Hehehe