Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Tattoo Chronicles: The Philosophies




I spent a lot of the last few years angry. It's not a secret; most of my friends have known about it and anyone who read any of my blogging during that time knows about it. It was an unfortunate time in my life. The source(s) of my anger are widespread and private; it is enough to know that I was angry. That isn't to say that I didn't have happy moments or that I didn't feel love or compassion or important positive feelings for my fellow man. There are actually a number of photos of me laughing and smiling with my loved ones during that time - just because you are angry doesn't mean you are angry every minute of the day. For me, the anger was something that was gracious enough to step aside and let me have the moments of happiness that came along; but it always stepped right back in, the moment it had the opportunity.

I have written about the fact that, as a child, I was ostracized and it led to my having a rich fantasy life; written about how the fictional characters I befriended in books and movies became my bedrock. I have written, often, about the manner in which I tend to idolize strong, tough, implaccable characters that embody that which I have never been able to accomplish. James Bond. Charlie Baltimore. Brian Kinney. Jason Bourne.

During my angry years I watched the Bourne movies - if not once a day, at least I watched part of a Bourne movie once a day. My Ipod was kept, almost constantly, on a soundtrack from a Bourne movie. These films and this character kept me angry and kept me moving forward - it was part of the process of staying focused and staying alive, rather than getting into bed for another 18 months, the way I did when going through a depression a few years ago. That's when I decided to get a Bourne related tattoo.

I decided to get Bourne's serial number tattoo'd to myself. There is a number on the dog tags he turns in at the end of the trilogy. There is a number on the passport that you get when you buy the dvd box set. There is a number of a bank account that is inside his hip. The question was: which number was the right one to get a tattoo of? I thought about it for a year and decided to get the bank account number tattoo'd to my hip.

Only it didn't feel right.

I thought about it for another year. I ran it by one or two people. It never felt right talking about it and people didn't really seem to take to the idea. Nobody did - not even me. For a year, though, I carried that bank account number on me, ready to have the tattoo done, in a moment, when the moment was right.

I always know when I'm getting close to my next tattoo. It is an instinct that is deep within me, yet right under the surface. I know it is going to happen; and soon. I was gearing up for the new tattoo but I still wasn't sure about the content of the tattoo. It didn't feel right. Another fictional character? And an assassin? A Swiss Bank Account number? It didn't feel right.

It was January. I was in Los Angeles visiting Brady. I was missing Pat and Hunter and the rest of my New Yorkers. I spent a lot of time online or on the phone with Pat and a lot of time texting Hunter, who was going through some auditions. Each time he had one, I texted him "I believe in you", a sentence and a sentiment that I think is paramount. It must be expressed. People need to know. One day, though, I texted him "Be like water". This is a phrase I have used for awhile, now. I got it from Pat, who got it from Bruce Lee. We are both fans of the great martial artist and actor, long deceased. We don't just love his movies, we believe in his philosophies on life. We own a copy of his book Tao of Jeet Kune Do and it isn't just a book on martial arts - it is a book of philosophy and wonderful philosophy it is, too. Bruce Lee's life is wonderfully documented in one of our favourite films, DRAGON, and he is played by one of our favourite actors, Jason Scott Lee. In the movie, Lee actually says "be like water" to his students. He explains that water is the most adaptable substance on earth. It's soft but it fits into any container. It feels weak but it penetrates rock. Be like water. I had heard Pat say it, some years ago, to someone and I liked that he had adopted the philosophy into his life and made the choice to do the same. I decided, there and then, that I would be like water. I think it is when I began to grow up. It isn't a philosophy I throw around - I don't say it to everyone, in fact, I think Hunter may have been the first person I ever passed it on to. When I did, though, it pushed the words right up to the front of my mind.

BE LIKE WATER.

Training is a big part of my life. Everyone knows it. I train like a mammajamma. I could train harder. I want to train harder. I want to be stronger, better, smarter. I continually push myself as hard as I can at the gym - harder, still, if I can. I am especially good at it when Ray is there. He leads me to train harder.

Recently, my favourite movie has been WANTED. I love comic book movies. I love MacAvoy and Jolie. I love this movie and the story and the characters and I have, recently, been watching it almost every day. It gets me through the rough spots, keeps me focused, keeps me angry.

Except that I'm not angry anymore.

I've been working very hard with my therapist, Dr Bowler. I went to him to deal with my anger management and he has brought me leaps and bounds out of it; I haven't been angry in a really long time. In fact, I've been quite happy, very loving and extremely peaceful. I have turned into a hippie. It's all about peace, love, life and fun. I like it. I like myself and the way I am now.

So now, when I watch the Bourne movies or listen to my angry music, it is for pleasure, not for anger. I get a lot of pleasure out of watching WANTED; and one day I was paying particular attention and I heard MacAvoy say "I have to train harder" and I jumped! He used my saying! He used my philosophy in the movie! I told Pat about it. It was like when I heard Bobby Morrow in A HOME AT THE END OF THE WORLD say "it's just love". When I read or hear someone use a phrase or sentence that I use all the time, I feel connected to an outside world - I know that I am not the only one who thinks these things. I feel validated, particularly since it was another artist who thought the same thing!

TRAIN HARDER

These two philosophies, BE LIKE WATER and TRAIN HARDER.. they don't go together. One is about bein adaptable and one is about being forceful. One is about peace and the other is about war. They do not belong together. Yet they live together, within me. They are my yin and my yang. I am a mass of contradiction, a dichotomy, an enigma. I don't try to figure me out and, trust me, nobody else should either. I don't try to explain who I am or what I believe in - I simply present fact and let people take it or leave it. That much about me is not complicated, is not a contradiction - it is simple, honest, real fact.

I wrote out the tattoo the way I wanted it and began thinking about whose handwriting I would want on my body forever. My angel and my tri-initial tattoo were both my own renderings; Tom's and Anthony's signatures were, natch, their own; the compass was rendered by Matt Logan and the Plain Jane Jones tattoo was Tom's writing. So who should I have do this one? Marci was out because she doesn't approve. Pat was out because his handwriting really just won't do. Jen's writing is very scrolly and I wanted plain block lettering. I asked Hunter and he did it but was quick to point out that the sample I had written in my own hand was more interesting... He was right.

I wrote it out myself. I placed a dot in between the two sayings, to show they are separate thoughts.

I chose the hip to honour my original idea and my idol, Jason Bourne.

I chose the first philosophy to honour the hippie I am, Bruce Lee, Jason Scott Lee and the film DRAGON, which I love, so.

I chose the second philosophy to honour the fighter I am and the movie WANTED, which I love, so.

I had the tattoo done at Tigger, in Dallas, the same place I got my angel, my very first tattoo, when I went home to care for my mom after her car crash. I had been in therapy and was no longer angry - happy and looking to the future.

A new tattoo for a time of change.

Please note that this story was written in March 2009 for my Facebook blog (along with most of the Tattoo Chronicles) but never posted on Blogger until somebody asked me about my newest tattoo. All the stories of all my tattoos are being published now, for continuity in storytelling.



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