a new tattoo


I’ve always hated birthdays. They seem like just another ritual to be endured. Another year older. Another year closer to death. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

But then I had what some might call a revelation – that may be too strong a word, but we’re gonna run with this one. This revelation came to me while I was soaping up in the shower the other week (some people sing in the shower – I have revelations). We treat birthdays like this: “Well shit, I’m another year older.” Unless, of course, it’s a birthday with a milestone:

16 – I can drive!

18 – I’m a legal adult! (but still can’t drink…)

19 – I can drink and gamble in Canada, eh

21 – I can drink! (even though I may have already died for my country)

25 – My insurance rates go down…hopefully

Yep, that’s it. After that, you just get older. And what’s exciting about that?

We’ve lost the meaning of birthdays. We celebrate a birthday because…well, just because. It’s ingrained in our culture and we don’t know any other way. You tell people “Happy Birthday” even though there’s not necessarily anything in particular to be happy about. It’s just their day. You buy them drinks, you buy them way more shots than any human was meant to imbibe in a given night and you sing Meat Loaf at the top of your lungs while trying to avoid getting your shorts pulled down around your ankles. In the words of 2pac: that’s just the way it is.

Birthdays should be a celebration of life. Of the life we’ve lived thus far and the life we’re going to live as we move inexorably toward a shallow grave. A celebration of the air you’re breathing, of the work you do, of the friends you’ve made, of the loves you’ve lost, of anything and everything that makes life so beautifully chaotic.

It’s only human to find ways to divide up time. Whether it be seven days in a week, 52 weeks in a year, or maybe we’re talking epochs and eras. Regardless, we do it so we can quantify time. This should inherently carry with it a time for reflection, for internal study. Let your birthday be your marker. Screw New Year’s and the resolutions that come with. That carries no significance for us aside from the fact that it’s an excuse to kick back and party.

if death comes today

30 minutes after the operation...still a little bloody

if death comes today

Thus, after my own period of internal reflection, I came to the decision that I wanted to celebrate this birthday with a new tattoo (number two). It’s on my forearm and says “if death comes today.”

The banner folds over the “if” too far, the t in “death” kind of looks like a c, and the two words “comes today” are too close together….and I absolutely love it. I told myself going into this that if there was anything about the tattoo I didn’t like that I would just roll with it. My body isn’t perfect (granted, that’s debatable), so why should any permanent addition I get to it be totally free of imperfection? Imperfection is perfection, an inherent contradiction that rings true, methinks.

And look at it this way: if I’ve accomplished anything with this new tattoo, I have successfully made my impending death ironic.


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One Response to “a new tattoo”

  1. twists and turns and imperfection « livin' like a freebird Says:

    […] embraced life. I don’t mean this in a dark, cryptic way, either. I wouldn’t have gotten the tattoo on my forearm if it was meant to be dark and cryptic – that just ain’t my […]

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