Tatt'ed Up

The Rogue, while being a wily and fun-loving fellow, is not without his own personal little flaws (shocking, I know). I like to spend money more than I care for making it, I am prone to bouts of laziness full of video games and movie fests rather than writing, and I'm deathly scared of needles. In all honesty it's not the needles that scare me so much as the pain that accompanies them. To be frank, I have an aversion to pain in general. So it was a little surprising for my nearest and dearest to hear several months ago that I intended on joining the tattooed masses.

I'm not prone to following the fashion trends of the day. I tend to wear the stuff that covers my butt and doesn't show off my gut too much and leave the rest of it in the closet. I've watched countless celebrities show off their new ink with little amusement. The fact that it's popular for our generation to get a tattoo had nothing to do with my interest. I was excited by the idea of personal branding (not the hot-metal-burning-your-skin type of branding, but the labeling-so-as-to-enable-others-to-see-what-you-are kind of branding). The idea that I could mark myself with a symbol of meaning to me for the rest of my life was very appealing.

But what symbol? What's good enough to wear forever? I thought about that a lot as Mrs. Rogue and I prepared for our European vacation. Richard and I discussed it over the phone and through email (he was having a similar search). We talked about the idea of getting our tattoos together as a remembrance of this journey (turned out we were too broke to do it then). We even toyed with the idea of getting identical tattoos (and may still someday) but couldn't come up with the perfect symbol for both of us. Eventually, I hit upon my perfect image, and Richard found his.

He has just shipped out for Iraq and wanted an image to mark that journey (and his eventual return home) so he chose this image:

The idea is that the day he gets back he'll have the date tattooed just below the bird. I think it's awesome (especially since Richard is head over heals for that traditional American tattoo style). It's perfect for him, but nowhere near what I was thinking for me.

I deliberated and pondered and then all of the sudden it came to me. I had always thought my first tattoo (possibly my only, depending on how bad the process hurt) should be a cross. There are few things in life (nothing really) that are as important to me or as deeply held as my faith, and while some consider it cliche, that image is one that has lasted more than 2,000 years (a lot longer than that in reality) for a very good reason. Saying you want a cross tattoo is like saying you want a Coke at a restaurant in the south. The next question you get asked is "What kind?" There are literally hundreds of variations on the cross symbol. The one that had special meaning for me (and coincidentally appealed to me aesthetically) was the Celtic or Gaelic Cross. A symbol of Ireland, this cross was one that we saw on dozens of graves during our trip to the Cliffs of Mohr.

But just a cross alone wasn't enough. I wanted an inscription, something poetic, with special meaning to me. This was what had hung me up for so long. But one night, two weeks or so before our vacation began, I just knew what my tattoo would be. Without further ado:

"Living is easy with eyes closed" is the first line from "Strawberry Fields Forever" by the Beatles. It's a lovely phrase that reminds me of the greatest band ever, but that's not the only reason I chose it.

It's also a fancy way of saying ignorance is bliss. That idea that people with intelligence are both blessed and cursed is one that I hold very dear. I believe wholeheartedly that life is easier for those that can coast through just worrying about the gas and the groceries. Those of us that see the big picture (notice I said us, since judging from your comments over the past year and half most of my readers are not simpletons) on the other hand, sometimes struggle with the big questions while still having to pay the bills. Not to get too geeky, but quoting Uncle Ben from Spider-man, "With great power comes great responsibility." I could have gotten that tattooed on my shoulder but I think my wife probably would have beaten me, or possibly left me.

Regardless of its meaning, for me or anyone else, it is now permanently on my left shoulder. The question is when am I gonna get a counterbalance for the right? While most people that knew me would have bet that I'd never have gone through with the first, the truth is, it didn't really hurt that bad. The actual tattooing wasn't pleasant, but it's by no means the worst sensation I've ever felt. I'm not sure about the design but I already have an idea about what's going on my right shoulder. To continue with the idea of personal branding, I'm thinking something along these lines:

Like I said the design around the word itself may change (the more complex the image, the more it's going to run together and look nasty when you get old), but the word itself and some semblance of its surroundings is probably going on.

Tell me what you think of mine, Richard's, my next one, tattoos in general. Do you have any? If so, what and where are they? It's interactivity time with the Drunken Rogue.