Thursday, June 27, 2013

Connecting Dots for Others

I haven't blogged much since I completed my series of post-Boston Marathon essays.  I did mention my 21st wedding anniversary.

This week I have found myself helping someone else to connect dots and thinking about what it means professionally.  I like to relate the ideas of connecting dots and building bridges.  I think they have the same basic motivating thought process.  Two things need to be joined.  I like to think conceptually about how to bring the things that needs to be joined together.  As I have commented to a few people at work, I have a fine time building bridges.  My next professional challenge is to keep the traffic moving once I have the bridge built.  Building the bridge and thinking that the "traffic" will continue to go on its own has not been a working professional strategy for me in the past.  I have learned that I cannot simply expect the "traffic" to go.  I have to manage the traffic even once the bridge is built.  It is symbolic of follow-up and continued nurturing that I will do in my professional life.

So, getting back to the dots I was helping someone else to connect, a friend mentioned an idea they had about a tattoo.  (And, no, I was neither providing the dots for the tattoo ink nor planning to connect them.  I will leave that to my tattoo artist if this person eventually does get a tattoo and eventually chooses the same artist I chose.)  Instead, I just added to the person's thinking by helping to brainstorm a bit about interesting expansions of this person's idea.

However, for the first time in the year since I got the background for my tattoo inked, I also cautioned my friend.  This person had mentioned some problems with a personal relationship.  Given the permanence of a tattoo, I warned the person not to get the tattoo until there is some healing.  When a person has a wounded soul may not be a good time to make decisions that are so permanent.  I related to my friend a number of things I've heard about tattoos.  One--that as a mature adult it is good to ponder the idea for a year.  Two--that getting a tattoo--even if it is very discrete--is a permanent change that makes you part of a culture that not everyone favors.  So think hard.  The friend said they (I know it is not correct English but I am cautiously protecting the friend's identity) would wait.

What I will encourage this friend to do, however, is to find a way to tell the story they want to tell.  Getting a tattoo in post-young adult life always seems to be associated with wanting a permanent record of a story that is critical to tell.  So, tell the story.  Write about it.  If willing--put it in a blog.  If not--just journal.  Sketch it.  Sing it.  Play it.  Share it.  Find a way to let the story out.  And if the story is meaningful enough and is still with you when the dust clears and you still want to have the story near you all the time, then a tattoo may be the right form of expression.  But only if you need the story there all the time.  Otherwise, send the story into the world, let it go, and move on.

Tattoo as story telling--I think so.  Tattoo as connecting dots in our own lives and meaning--I think so.  Tattoo as art--of course.  The key is just to know when is the time to make it permanent and to think of the role it serves.  Can that role be served some other way or not?  And will getting the tattoo help put the story to rest even as you have it close to you forever?

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