on Reversing a “Permanent” Decision

It’s difficult to look at a decision, however small or large, that was made in good faith, and then to later realize it is no longer applicable, no longer the correct course of action, no longer the right attitude for the present. Occasionally these things happen. In some cases we don’t even realize the impact of the decision being faced, in others we understand its permanence, but not how time will shift our opinions. We can see, some time after settling on our choice, results beginning to develop that weren’t intended, or we might find that what was supposed to work forever can only work for a little while. Ten years ago in January I put a tattoo on the inside of my left forearm – six black script letters, spelling out the word “WISDOM.” Ten years I’ve worn it, at first with pride, then with some reservations, and finally, …

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On Being a Tattooed Person

Various analysts see being tattooed as indicating a penchant for violence (Newman, 1982), a tendency toward self-destructive behavior (Burma, 1965; Kurtzberg et al., 1967; Taylor, 1970), a pathological need for attention (Haines and Huffman, 1958), or a tendency to engage in certain forms of property crime (Haines and Huffman, 1958; Orten and Bell, 1974). Customizing the Body: The Art and Culture of Tattooing How should a tattooed person react to a statement like that? Each source was published between 1958-1982. Has so much changed since then? If I go down the list, I can check off the afflictions that I feel safe saying aren’t mine: A penchant for violence:  I don’t have this. I was in a fight once, in kindergarten.  I punched a boy named Brad because I thought his name sounded dumb.  I have never punched anyone again. (But I still don’t have any friends named Brad) A …

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Body Part

Hidden under three layers of skin, buried under hair, sweat, and sunburn, tiny bubbles of black ink stain the inside of my left forearm. Five letters and one symbol, each an inch squared, spell out the word “Wisdom.” I sat in a chair like the kind you do at the dentist’s office while a rough, goateed man repeatedly plunged a sharp needle into my arm, transmitting the black liquid to a place in my body where it will stay, forever. Five years and three more regrettable tattoos later, the dark word has faded slightly, but still shows easily enough that I try and hide it in the company of strangers and children. Whatever high-minded thoughts I harbored when I commissioned this enterprise I have forgotten, lost, abandoned, and revoked. “What does that say?” I used to have no problem answering when some curious person would try and lift my arm …

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