It was ten years ago when I got the ‘tri-spiral’ tattooed on my upper arm. A cliqued place for a young Irish man to be inked, and even more unoriginal a Celtic symbol. It was at the time a quasi-rebellious, if pathetically tame, act of self-expression and body ownership. I say was because had I been born five to ten years later, the perceived norm has become littering yourself with every pop icon symbol or phrase you saw once, liked and can barely comprehend the depth of.
But I thought I was being somewhat original with a tri-spiral. The oldest Celtic mark which symbolizes the three stages of man: birth, death & eternity. It can be found carved into Ireland’s oldest historical site, Newgrange, dating back ten thousand years. It was all very philosophical, very original and most importantly unique. Well that’s what I thought anyway…
Fast forward ten years and it’s embossed on the trophy for the Irish Television and Film awards, been molded into tourist rings in Athens & kitted onto trees in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. It’s at this point that you’d think I’d be kicking myself and running to a tattoo parlor to try and eradicate this cultural trademark from my arm. But the thing is I’m not nor do I want to.
I don’t look at this with regret. I’d never do it again but I don’t regret doing it. I look at tattoos like my scars. I’m lucky enough that both were formed due to stupidity or misadventure on my part. I look at them as symbols of what I once was and therefore what got me to where I am today. As such they aren’t symbols of regret but more signposts of where I’ve been.
I’m not sure I’d feel the same way if I had Elmer Fudd sporting a hard-on emblazoned on my arm. But then again I think I would.