I’m old enough now to hear the newness of discovery in the younger folks around me as they begin to line up along the compasses of their lives. I’m going to be 50 in a little less than a year now. The funny thing about the young folks I work with though is that they make a Hell of a lot of sense... and remind me to, as I practice in Yoga, always work against being brittle and emotionally/mentally sedentary. To breath and reach toward flexibility. Always just a little beyond what feels comfortable because that’s where the ideas live.
So I’ve survived my youth, several career changes, a heart attack, married to my best friend, reconciled with my estranged brother (whom I mostly estranged in the first place), with a growing collection of lovely friends. I’ve morphed into a vegetarian, a runner and a meditation practitioner over the course of the past two years. All this pursuit reminds me mostly to live in the moment and do the kinds of things that challenge us and promote emotional growth in the process. Sometimes it’s messy. Sometimes it hurts. And a lot of times it feels like standing naked in front of someone and feeling totally self conscious about every aspect of yourself as I felt while working with my therapist regarding my anxiety disorder and grieving process related to being a survivor.
I dedicated 2017 early on to doing things that scare the Hell out of me. The good things. The ones that feel like trimming back the heads off a basil plant in the summer time that make it explode in aromatic yellow gold leaves of new growth.
I want to own 49 and make it mine from February 2017 through February 2018 and look back on the kind of year that made me think I took a moment and did things differently for once. Maybe turn the course of my navigation by a few degrees and come across all new places and peoples along the way. Raucous parties. People who aren’t bound by traditional norms and think outside the box like myself – at least how my inner person thinks anyway underneath all the protocol and personal dogma.
A very old college coworker of mine used to go to Tibet with her husband on a regular basis. I was something like 20 at the time when I knew her. She told me Ganesha was the remover of obstacles and the opener of doors. Bringer of luck. Liked to be on the physical right side of things. Was surrounded by sweets and always had rats around him. I liked the imagery so much that I gave the piece she gave me to my brother back then framed for some occasion. I suck at presents and special occasions so that’s pretty much saying something there. But Ganesha always found himself back in my home through other peoples gifts. I’ve had that imagery in my house for decades now. Always on the right side of things like Cathy told me.
When it finally came time to hook up with a tattoo shop it was Ganesha that kept coming to my mind. The design I talked through with my tattoo artist Andy from Long Street Collective represents this story perfectly. I wanted to start with my back as a way to remind myself that someone had opened doors for me. That I had walked through them leaving my old self behind while finding a new understanding along the way. I’ve always been lucky to have Eddie nearby, a collection of good friends and of course, somehow, finding the right amount of spark in the anxiety driven commotion inside my head to think clearly enough for a short period of time to make the leaps I needed to make. That’s what the back tattoo means to me. A less than literal representation of Ganesha to mirror how I see life through the mask of anxiety… but more clearly the more I meditate, run and get closer to myself while reaching out to more people and making friends, taking chances and standing naked under the stars while humbling oneself during some brutally honest internal conversations.
As I’m finding out, the back sucks pain wise but it’s like the cloud meditation. The pain is like clouds in the sky… it’s not the sky itself. It passes and you through it.
The back is the first third of what I have planned for the year. Next we move onto the shoulders, arms and chest. I plan to look for patterns and to honor the time bomb in my chest, the constant insanity of my brain, avoidance, self medication versus clarity and purpose, taking chances and allowance of change. Of not having time to wait around any longer to decide what “I want.” Or what do you want to do when you grow up. The time is now. Right now immediately now for all of us. We just don’t all see it at the same time is all. Tomorrow is the illusion.
Living life day by day is the edict. Jumping off new choices, sometimes in a tattoo shop and other times a pizzeria in Cleveland, with people I love around me is the direction. New, and old, experience is the practice.
In the end? Love is the result.