I took a break to help clear my writers block and started over. This time I think I have a coherent story to tell.
I have already spoken about the experience of the tattoo process. Everyone knows about the pain, but it goes away a short while after the buzzing stops. The ink that is left behind in the process, is permanent. For me, this is where the real experience of getting tattooed begins. I am not trying to downplay the hours of pain that I had to endure, but 16 hours is a minuscule amount of time compared to living the rest of my life with my newly inked skin. The realization that my body has been permanently altered and that there is no going back is no small thing.
That realization is the reason why getting this tattoo was such an important experience for me. Much like my physical appearance, my life was changing right before my eyes and there was no turning back.
Most people that know me, and even those who meet me for the first time, don’t expect me to have tattoos, let alone one of this size. On the outside, I’m 6′ tall, weigh 240lbs and have 30″ thighs that don’t fit into most jeans. From afar, words like quiet, shy, reserved and timid are probably not what you would think could be used to describe me. At first glance I might even be seen as an intimidating guy, but my personality is so completely opposite of my physical stature. For most of my life, I think I tried to compensate for my large size by shrinking my personality down and hiding within myself. That is all changing and I’m slowly coming out of my shell. I truly believe that my tattoo is playing an important role in this change for so many reasons.
Just the simple idea of getting a tattoo was a big stretch for me. Although tattoos are much more common today and not exactly taboo anymore, there are still people out there that won’t be accepting. I have been interested in tattoos for a long time and my reason for not getting one was that I wanted something with real significance to my life and couldn’t figure out exactly what that was. Looking back, I wonder if I just didn’t have the courage to go through with it for fear of what other people might think. Not only that, I would be doing something that would draw more attention to myself. Not exactly conducive to keeping a low profile.
Today, I am a very different person than I was a few years or even as recently as a few months ago. This tattoo is as much a part of my personality now as it is a part of my skin. Walking around in winter with long sleeves, none of it is visible, but I always know it’s there, hidden under my clothing. When I’m wearing short sleeves, the only thing visible is the Koi on my arm. It’s bright, colorful, and very calming and peaceful. I have always had an ability to create calm in those around me and my Koi does an excellent job at representing that side of me. Again, I know there is more hidden beneath my clothes. It is positioned in such a way that allows me to roll up my sleeve and make it appear that the Koi is the entire tattoo, with the dragon remaining completely covered. You have to dig a few layers deep to reveal the rest.
Dragons, contrary to how they are typically portrayed, are not evil creatures. They are protectors and represent courage, strength, power and wisdom.
My artist, Darren, did such an amazing job of capturing my personality in this tattoo. In the short time he had to get to know me, he knew exactly what to do to make the tattoo right for me. He was able to incorporate all of the positive traits of the dragon without making it appear overly aggressive. The man is a genius.
Three months have gone by and my tattoo has become such a part of me that I couldn’t ever picture myself without it. Having the tattoo has been an amazing experience so far and I have gotten nothing but positive reactions to it. One of the first things I starting to notice is the amount of people that have tattoos, and how willing everyone is to talk about them. People that I have walked past in the halls at work hundreds of times over the last 3 years and not spoken a word to, suddenly have something to talk about. Whether it’s just a quick chat about the artistic value of the tattoo, or a springboard for diving into my life story, there is no doubt that it has helped transform me into a much more open person. Barring all of the deep emotional reasons behind my tattoo, this thing is a work of art done by a very talented artist and I am proud to display it anywhere I go. I want it to be seen by as many people as possible. Now I just need to stick to my gym routine throughout the winter and wait for warmer weather to come to give me more opportunities to display my work in it’s entirety.