of tattoos and meaning

a child once asked me about my tattoos. he was curious. so i told him. i told him that something bad happened to me, and these are the tools i use to fight that. he nodded his head. i seriously doubt he had any idea what i was talking about, but he was polite and did not press further.

i wish he had.

my tattoos are my war stories, they are my tool belt, they are the picturesque grotesque of my life. i really don’t mind talking about them. they are more representative of my life story than my job, my belongings, even more so than the lovely lady.

my tattoos paint the picture of my will, of the skill with which i have boxed death and enamored life.

i wish everyone had the curiosity of the child. it is easy to see what is important to most people. family, home, religion, etc. those of us who have fought inner battles our entire lives may not have the option to flaunt meaning, to express ourselves continually and without effort.

we have experienced things that cannot be easily talked about at a barbecue or at the water cooler or even in groups of people. the violence of silence abounds.

and so i put needle to skin.

that is not the only reason. i also put needle to skin because i have the worst memory ever. i literally detail, with symbols, the steps to fight my way out of a psychotic episode or a wayward cycle. by association, i am able to remember the tools, the steps, the footwork. i remember the footwork to box. if i tattoo it to my skin, i will never forget, i will never abandon, i will never leave this accomplishment behind me.

it is an accomplishment, the Tenets of Meta Boxing. i worked for twenty years on a step by step guide that only exists as a set of symbols on my forearm. i have lost more ideas than i can count. yet here are the tenets, in black and white, safe guarded against the ravages of time and disorganization.

yet i cannot safe guard against the lack of curiosity i face. i have become anxious to write my book, which i struggle with, because i keep trying to encompass the entire gottamn thing in one sitting. the tattoos are a collection of smaller thoughts, inked one at a time, as time and expressive interest allows.

the importance of our lives, the mentally variable, hang in the balance of a curiosity that often doesn’t exist. i put needle to skin, in hopes that i remember, in hopes that the masses forget i am “ill.” in hopes that maybe someone will realize a story is hidden behind the violence of silence.