Before I got my first tattoo, I could not figure out why someone would want one, let alone several. Now that I’ve had my own tat for several weeks, I’m starting to understand a bit about the why.
While I can’t speak for anyone else, in my case, it’s about taking the hidden scars and making them visible. My first tat is a memorial to my wife and to the five furry kids (aka, cats) who are with her in the afterlife. Each of them made a place for themself in my heart, so there’s a big red heart as a central part of the design. Also, my wife and I spoke about tattoos once during her last year or two of life and she liked the idea of the heart and banner, so every time I see it, I’m reminded of all the conversations we had.
A second aspect of getting a tattoo for me is wearing a visible reminder of the lessons I’ve learned and the stories I’ve lived so far in this life. For my first tattoo, well, those are fairly obvious — Barbara was the heart of my life and she has five of our “angel babies” (as she often called the cats) with her. I’m reminded of our time together and the things they did when I see the tattoo there on my shoulder.
During my 15 years as a Freemason, I learned how one symbol can have multiple meanings; one story could be about several things; and one point of view could be true, yet incomplete. So, it pleases me greatly that my second tattoo is a symbol that has a number of meanings, makes several statements, and connects to a variety of experiences and people that have shaped me.
As my first tattoo was such a classic and obvious design, I wasn’t even considering another tattoo until a more-symbolic design caught my eye. After discussion with the tattoo artist and sleeping on what he said, I made some changes and now have a personalized semicolon tattoo.
So, here’s a partial list of the meanings of my “G Cat Semicolon” symbolic tattoo.
The Letter G
God, Gatewood, Green, grief, the Letter G in Freemasonry, Gratitude, Goals, Gnosis
A semicolon is used when an author could have stopped the sentence, but choose to continue; when there’s a series of items such that commas alone make it hard to tell where one item ends; and in certain other circumstances. It’s also part of the winky-face emoticon. As one of the most-frequently-used punctuation marks, it’s a tool of the trade for a writer.
By adding cat ears and whiskers to the top part of the semicolon, this turns it into a stylized cat. As my wife had cats when I met her, they’ve always been part of our lives together. My parents are dog people, as was I until I met my wife. So, having a cat as part of this tattoo denotes my family in a specific way.
Combining those elements, this one tattoo conveys at least the following meanings:
God is not finished with me yet
The wonderful and wise Susanna Krizo had this to say recently about God:
I’ve been looking at God and trying to re-do our relationship, but that wasn’t necessary. What I needed was to be reminded that the 11-year-old who met God, met the God who doesn’t need to be re-written to fit our lives, and doesn’t need us to re-write our lives to fit the Kingdom. Instead, the God I met was the God who is here, always has been, and always will be here, with us, through our darkest moment, through our joy, when we can’t breathe, when we can’t see, when we can’t imagine tomorrow, when we cry, when we laugh, when we just want to be. And that God is the God I’ve always wanted.
A less serious way to view this is that the Deity is laughing at Her cosmic jokes; the lack of parenthesis means this includes both funny and dark humor. Any Deity that lacks a sense of humor is not one I care to know. 😉
Grief is part of my story, but not the end; life continues. Expressing my grief is mourning; this tattoo and writing about it are one way for me to mourn.
Project Semicolon was created for mental health awareness and to honor all who have struggled with mental health issues, especially those who have battled with suicidal thoughts or actions. I added this element to the design of this tattoo in honor and remembrance of those whom I have known that fought those battles, including some who lost their fight. It is a reminder that, no matter how depressed or frustrated or upset with the state of the world I may get, suicide is not my best choice — and that I never know what someone else may be going through, so human decency requires kindness toward everyone.
As the Letter G figures so prominently in American Freemasonry, to me it stands as a symbol of the fraternity itself. While I am no longer a Freemason, that is not the end, as what I learned there will go with me into whatever new adventures are coming.
Green was Barbara’s maiden name, so this refers to her and to her family. She is not finished with me yet (there are still lessons to learn from her and the time we shared); and her family remain part of my life.
As God is Love, our love is not done; it continues forever.
As I’m a Gatewood, this refers to me. I am not finished yet. As long as I’m not gone, there’s still work and I can get ‘er done.
As a writer, I have Goals that are far from accomplished, so this is a reminder to write, edit, publish, market, and repeat.
One of the best methods I’ve found for keeping myself from being depressed is journaling, especially in my gratitude journal. So, another meaning is to have Gratitude and never stop journaling about it and about other aspects of life.
Gnosis is a Greek word for knowledge. Here it refers to learning; and my quest for knowledge and learning continues.
So, this one tattoo of just three elements conveys many different lessons every time I look at it. And I hope you have enjoyed this explanatory story.