The tattoo that took ten years.

“When you create art, the world has to wait.”
~ Will Smith ~

One of the many things that spent years (ten to be honest) on my “someday” to do list was a tattoo. I really wanted one but had no idea what I wanted to get. Just walking in and picking a design out of a book and having the next available person do it was not an option. This was a big, permanent decision and had to be the right choice and represent me. I began this spring asking friends who and where they went and trusted and I got a lot of options and did my homework. After a lot of soul searching and experimenting, I came up with the design I was going to use and had to choose the artist who could take the piece of paper and bring it to life on my arm. This process had taken ten years to get to this point, I was ready but it needed to be perfect. After a conversation with Wes Grimm in Kansas City I knew he was the person I was going to trust to cross this off my list. He has been doing tattoos for thirty years and I told him this is my basic design but you are the artist so I will trust your ideas for size and specific details. He asked me a few questions to make sure he understood the meaning and promptly said, “Okay, when do you want do this?” I was thinking three or four weeks but once he said he was available the following Saturday I decided get rid of the safety net and set up an appointment.

That morning I woke up with a headache and felt lousy thinking I might need to reschedule. I have seen this play out too many times, I was recognizing the pattern of anxiety. What have I been working all this time to control was trying to control me again but this time I am determined to deal with it. My goal from here on out is that if I get beat by someone or something that is one thing, but I was finished being beaten by imaginary things or myself. I got up and went ahead with my morning still feeling poorly but I would deal with it. As the day went on I felt better and before I knew it I was sitting in the waiting area ready to go. When he came out with the final design I thought it was too big but I really liked it. I reminded myself of why I chose him and decided to just trust the artist and went to his work station and sat down (trying to act brave). My wife sat there for an hour and fifteen minutes smiling and cringing when she saw my pain. I didn't watch him work too much, I was mostly trying to distract myself especially when he was working around the inside of the bicep and around the edge of the triceps. I am not going to lie, that part hurt! Then when I thought he was finished and he decided to add some shading, that hurt too but it was the right choice.

When I saw him push his chair back and saw the look of pride as he admired his work, I was pleased even before I looked at the finished product. I turned to the mirror to witness what I had waited ten years for. It was exactly what I had hoped for. A perfect trinity knot with a ribbon above with the Gaelic word for Love, and a ribbon below again in Gaelic were the words Loyalty and Friendship. The trinity knot means different things to different people but the two meanings closest to me are Mind, Body and Spirit and the other is Life, Death, and Rebirth. The fact is that this perfectly represents the journey I have been on and that everything is interconnected. I still have to look at it every now and again to see that I really did get it.      

This day was also somewhat of a turning point for my anxiety induced headaches. I still get headaches but I am not letting anxiety get the best of me like I did for many years.


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