Tattooed 8/17/21

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

Yes, as of yesterday (a week ago by the time this posts), I am bad.  I have gotten my first ever tattoo (despite my jokes to the contrary).  Because of the conservative nature of my past careers, I never felt as if I could get a tattoo.  There are some things I don’t do, like smoking pot, but I’ve often thought it might be fun to get a marijuana license.  Not because I would use it but having it doesn’t mean I have to use it.  Getting the license (which is no longer required in several states) would kind of be my way of supporting freedom of choice simply because, having had my marriage destroyed by alcohol, I simply do not believe the marijuana can be worse than alcohol or tobacco. 

The idea came from a Pampered Chef presentation at their national convention.  A speaker suggested a tattoo as a means of maintaining motivation.  I’ve often joked about getting a tattoo, but never really took it seriously.  I thought about getting just the outline of the periodic chart tattooed onto my back shoulder simply because of the role chemistry has played in my life, but I never did.  Perhaps I still will.  But not yet.

Yesterday (as of the writing of this) I was out and about running errands and feeling very hangry.  Since I am diabetic, I am very aware of the signs when I’m about to go hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) and wanted to try someplace new.  Across the street from where I have a mailbox is a little sub place and I thought I’d try it.  Next door to the sub place, however, was a tattoo shop.  So, thinking about this suggestion from Pampered Chef, I decided to act on an idea I had for a hidden tattoo the purpose of which is to provide personal inspiration.

It’s very small, and against their advice, when I say “hidden”, it is actually tattooed onto the webbing skin between my thumb and hand.  If you look on your hand with your thumb in the relaxed position, you’ll see the flap “reveal” itself when you extend your thumb away from your hand.  That tiny little flap of skin, usually not visible, is where I had the “Yin Yang” symbol tattooed.  Visible periodically to anybody who is observant, but usually more or less hidden.  But whenever I’m feeling depressed, I can extend my thumb and see this symbol.

My friend asked if I’m planning on converting to Taoism.  Well, “converting” is a strong word since I don’t currently belong to any church, but no, I am not planning on becoming Taoist, either.  However, I have read Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the Tao te Ching (and several bad translations as well) multiple times.  Yes, I understand it is the founding book for Taoism, but I don’t see it as religious.  Rather, to me personally anyway, it simply reads as a guide, an “owner’s manual” if you will for your life.  It talks about the cyclic nature of life, and it’s reflected in the Yin Yang symbol.  The Tao te Ching suggests there are two forces driving life, a dark element and a light element, or a yin and a yang.  The dark element is not necessarily evil any more than the light element is good; they’re just opposites like up and down or left and right.  And within each element is a piece of the other, which is why there is a yang “eye” in the yin portion of the symbol, and a yin “eye” in the yang.

The two are designed as if one is flowing into the next.  This reflects life.  A master of the Tao understands that when things are bleak and down, it won’t last forever and eventually it will flow into good times to follow.  The master will also temper their joy in good times when things are up, recognizing that even this will flow back down again. 

The Tao te Ching suggests not reacting to circumstances, and not allowing them to affect you.  It suggests being like the axle on a wagon wheel, remaining constant regardless of where the wheel is in its rotation.  Well, how sad is this?  No, I’m happy to feel happy, and feeling sad is a reminder to enjoy the times that I’m happy, but when I’m depressed (as I was not so very long ago), this little hidden tattoo is a reminder to me of the flow of the Yin and the Yang, and will help me to remain hopeful.

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