What is your initial reaction when you think about tattoos ?
“Never for me”.
I am sure the reaction ranges from good to bad to ugly. My first encounter with a tattoo happened when I was eight years old. I had gone to my ancestral village in Thanjavur,India. My cousin took me to the banks of the river Cauvery where I saw several small shops selling various kinds of snacks. We entered one of them where an old lady was frying some delicious “Bhajis”-Vegetable fritters. As she handed me the hot Bhajis, I noticed a beautiful green-colored peacock etched on her forearm. Seeing my curiosity, she told me the story of her late-husband whose name was “Mayil-Rajakumar”, which literally translates to “Peacock-Prince”. He died fighting for the country in 1971 Indo-Pak war. She etched his name-symbol when he died and it gave her enormous strength to lead her life without missing him. My cousin later explained that folks in her village actually have it as a custom to get tattoo-ed when they get married or when a significant event happens in their life.
I became a city-boy and completely forgot about tattoo’s for most of my life. I came to US and was literally scared of many folks with tattoos. It was one thing to see a small, elegant tattoo but whole other thing when you see elaborate, full-body tattoos with intricate art work. I could not understand those people or the reasoning behind their expression until my car broke down in 1999.
The mechanic who fixed my car got into a nice, long conversation about India, what I plan to do, what my goals were. I noticed he had one of those full-body tattoos. As I asked him why, he explained how he had grown up in the foster care system and he got one as he left each foster home. My fear of tattoo-ed people immediately vanished. Everyone gets a tattoo to reassure themselves. To remind themselves. To prove themselves. There is always a story behind a tattoo. Even the stupid ones. A stupid tattoo represents a period of their life when they were impulsive and rebellious. I was no more a tattoo-fearing person after that. In fact, I look forward to understanding people who are very different from my lifestyle. It is part of growing up and maturing. My fears were just a by-product of what I didn’t understand.
Years later, the final hurdle to my getting a tattoo was removed when my lovely wife got herself a beautiful double infinity symbol tattoo last year. I loved her thoughtfulness, aesthetic design with deep meaning associated with it as she etched her Parents initials to honor her memories of them.
As I started my search for my first tattoo, I had to dig deep to find out what matters to me. What do I want to be reminded of? What will be the meaning of my symbol ? What qualities I want to imbibe through it ? What will not make me regret ten years from now ? What is Eternal to me ?
One of the recurring, constant, spiritual theme over the past two years in my life has been, “Be Present“. I attended an insightful training last year that helped me close several of my past open loops. I became a huge fan of Eckhart Tolle’s “Power of Now” and “A New Earth”. My friends suggested etching “Be Present” in Italian or Latin or Sanskrit. As I thought more about it, I realized that being literal is not as powerful as being symbolic. A symbol is personal, powerful and can mean multiple things to many people but what matters is what it means to you. As I started my meditation practice, it became even more clear that I needed a symbol to represent my spiritual side.
I chose the above “Eye” symbol to represent this spiritual yearning.
Being present is being awake. Being awake is to open your eyes and see things as is. There is a deep need within us to see things the way we want them to be, ignoring, neglecting, masking, filtering, the actual behavior and actions that happen to us. I am a dreamer by nature.I believe my will can change anything if I put my whole heart into it.I was reassured of this fact many times but as I grow older, I also realize, that this wholehearted-filter blinds me. It makes me not see things as they are. It doesn’t tell me when to retreat and approach things in a different manner. It doesn’t make me a river that contours itself to the realities and rocks in its path and moves forward. It doesn’t make me a grass that bends to the strong storms instead of fighting it. My rebelliousness makes me fight than let things happen.
If I am awake, I will see that I don’t have to fight so hard. I should enjoy the good things that happen and when things I don’t want/like happens, I should accept them. If I am awake, I can see why they happen and take measures.I will have better reflection.Introspection. I can’t be present without being awake to my own faults and part in the misfortunes that occur to me. I can’t find my way out of a situation if I am hijacked by my reaction to it.
It is easy to get carried away by our reaction and feelings but they also blind you to the situation at hand. I have to be awake to see it as is. It’s not easy but it’s a worthy goal in life. It doesn’t make me a robot without feelings but it makes me accept my feelings and accept the situation that is dealt to me.
This is my spiritual eye that tells me to take my ego away from the situation. It tells me that “Life always exists in the present” moment. Focus on it. Don’t get carried away by past regrets or future worries. It tells me to open my eyes to the abundance in my life. It tells me to open my eyes to my fears and confront them. Don’t close your eyes and think the world is dark. Be aware of your self. And if you can’t see,trust the opinion of the one who treats you like their eyes.
Open your self!