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Celebrating Life with Death

After having my left side filled with light wind with circling cherry blossoms last year, I decided to go a bit darker and heavier with the real estate on my right side. I just completed this after four, four hour sessions. The tattoo consists of three skulls and a slew of daisies representing for me what most would see as the Day of the Dead. Originally I was thinking to be much more traditional in the representation of the typical sugar skulls which is often used in Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico and surrounding areas. Many cultures celebrate the life of their ancestors similarly. In Japan they celebrate Obon by floating lanterns for each remembrance. With much of my existing tattoo work being Japanese in symbolism I decided to incorporate the overall concept, but with a bit more integration with the existing tattoos. This is what led me to represent the idea by having more realistic skulls and realistic looking daisies. The daisies would be comprised of the existing colors of the four dragons on my leg below this new tattoo. We also incorporated some wind flowing around and through the skulls with some of the daisy petals trapped in the current. The artist wrapped things up by joining the flow of the clouds surrounding the existing dragon tattoos with the circling wind coming down from the trio of skulls. So as far as actual meaning to me, the past few years has me thinking much more about the finality of death and how that realization can and should affect my life. Much like the blossoms which symbolized a dedication to oneself, this tattoo also speaks to a personal truth in living as you are as opposed to how you think others want you to. It is a hard thing to do when you actually try to put it into practice. The difficulty really comes from not having been able to do it too much. That sounds foolish at first, but I have realized how much I am really influenced by others. Not so much as they are persistent about any one particular thing, but more my fear in disappointing them in what I perceive their standard of me to be. That self imposed pressure doesnít give much time to relax by putting your guard down. You canít fall out of your A game too often or people begin to wonder what the big change is in your life causing it. In my particular case it has caused me to live many years keeping my true self wrapped inside while only showing a caring, understanding, and thoughtful outward persona. The reality is more of a cynical, sarcastic, grumpy, and rude introvert because I rarely have anything nice to say. Surrounding myself with others like that allows me to express myself in ways that typical people wouldnít understand. When I have tried to open up to people I once considered close, they often grimace and wonder what made me this way. In truth it is because I am in fact comfortable with them to the point where I can be myself, but they often prefer the person they originally perceived me to be. Original explanations of how I was were dismissed as joking I guess. Who is the joke on now, me or them? So to the tattoo itself...there are many people in my past, both friends and family, that have passed, but influenced me greatly. In truly being myself I feel that I am appreciating all they brought in letting me know who they were. I want to surround myself with people that I can let in to who I am even if it means risking being vulnerable. I want my kids to learn from me how to embrace who they are and allow others to be influenced by them and allow themselves to be influenced by others. I can't imagine a greater truth than living your own life to your own standard regardless of how that matches up to the standards others want to bestow upon you.