For a long time I’ve sort of resisted the idea that tattoos are beautiful or necessary.
Yet a number of recent experiences have convinced me that something interesting and good may be going on with the entire world of tattoos. But first, some perspective.
On NBA players, they often seem like overkill. Frankly, the whole NBA scene seems vain and inglorious. Despite its seeming height of popularity, the sport seems desperate for attention in all the wrong ways. The many-tattooed players are basically preening for each other like a bunch of battle-worn birds. Behind the scenes, the massive party logic and wild spending of the NBA, and NFL as well, has been exposed for what it is. A fragile and often lonesome game of magnified chance. Players given everything in life blowing through all limits to express their rage at good fortune. Some make it through. Others lose it all. Many proceed to live on the reputation of having been a pro athlete, which is supposedly everyone’s dream.
Down the road
But it makes me wonder what will happen to many of these tattooed players 30 years down the road, if they live that long. When their bodies sag or bloat as many do, how will those tattoos look then?
So many millions of people are getting tattoos that it is not merely imitative of characters in the NBA. Most tattoo wearers make careful choices about what they put on their bodies. Some women choose a demure place to get something significant. Some guys wrap their arms in dramatic style. But they can always cover it up for work.
Recently I met a gal in our workplace cafeteria who has a sweet-looking tattoo on her calf. It opened a conversation and it turned out we had something in common in cycling. She’s a mountain biker, and an apparently good one at that. I can make no such claim, yet it was interesting to learn that behind her sweet smile and our casual jokes there resided a person of considerable depth and strength of character.
She also brought to my attention through a quick social media exchange that she has an entirely different layer of personality, discipline and athleticism as well. She’s a black belt in martial arts, with big honking trophies to prove it.
The entire conversation sort of processed through the tattoo on her leg, as if it were a portal into who she really is. And that’s kind of cool. Perhaps that also explains, in a sense, how tattoos really work. They reveal a bit of the chosen soul.
It may also explain the massive decorative flair of those NBA players. They’re almost trapped in those big bodies banging into each other. But if you go through the pattern of their tattoos, perhaps the real person might emerge. The one who’s not so processed into NBA mode.
The tattoos reveal the rest of the person lurking inside the person we often get to present to the world. Okay, I’m good with that. How about you?