As a youth, I participated in sports. People cheered when I cracked a hit, scored a touchdown or swished the game-winning basket. In college, I played outrageous tennis, tournament racquetball and raced bicycles. Then, triathlons and boardsailing captured my interest. Later, long distance continent hopping bicycle adventure carried me to the ends of the planet. Yes! My name appeared in papers along with interesting pictures. I earned a lot of attention.
My dad said, “Always do your best son and life will show you a great time!”
He also gave me one of the most important pieces of advice in my life when it came to social life, “Son, learn to dance and you’ll always have a pretty girl on your arm and on the dance floor.”
All humans love to be seen, to be noticed and to be appreciated. Being noticed or cared about remains a powerful human drive.
When I signed up for the military, some guys bought tattoos for their arms. Later, I watched guys visit tattoo parlors to have huge eagles painted onto their backs.
What did those tattoos do? They brought them attention! People looked at them!
Decades later, this country’s male and female youth stampede into tattoo parlors for some of the most mosaic, dramatic and massive tattoos ever imagined.
At the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota each year, officials throw a contest for persons with the best tattoos. I’ve watched them and, as always, the crowd feels sorry for the winners. They disfigured their bodies into grotesque pictures of dragons and devils beyond comprehension. One lady, wearing a bikini, featured “Tony the Tiger” crawling up her back with his front paws reaching up the back side of her arms and his legs following her back legs. Tony’s orange and black tail circled off his body and curled around the lady’s right leg all the way to the ankle. She stood proud of her disfigurement.
In a few words: sickening, horrid, infantile, stupid and pathetic!
In Denver, you may see Nuggets basketball players with hideous flames shooting up the inside of their biceps as trees grow up their necks and filthy words jangle off their fingers and arms. Bronco football players feature barbed wire around their biceps.
The entire display shows child-like stupidity, lack of personal maturity and a definite need to be ‘noticed’ for what one shows on the body rather than what a person achieves in life. It’s beyond understanding.
A tattoo becomes a disfiguring scar for life. It fills the body with unnatural dyes, as well as lead and mercury under the skin. It shows that person lacks enough personal self-esteem to be noticed on his/her merits rather than a paint job below the skin.
Worse, by the time they reach 30, and grow a brain or acquire some maturity, they cannot undo what they did!
Let me correct myself! Today, with laser surgery, a $100 tattoo may ‘vanish’ with $15,000.00 worth of surgery, but the skin never returns to its pure form before the disfigurement. To make my point, laser tattoo removal surgery commands millions and soon to be billions of dollars for those that loathe 'that' day of their decision to paint a tattoo onto their bodies!
As a teacher and a parent, I hope more parents raise their kids like my father and mother. Teach them to earn their attention by studying for top grades, participating in sports and engaging in social activities like dancing.
Well into the last third of my life, I raced against Lance Armstrong last year in the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race Across the Sky—100 miles, 12 hours, 16,000 vertical feet, 4-12,000 foot passes, 1-13,000 foot pass and an incredible day of racing. For the first 10 seconds, I raced Lance handlebar to handlebar. What a thrill as people cheered him and me. I earned it! Look what Lance earned in his life without tattoos!
Last week, my friends and I made a successful quest of Homestead Peak at 13,208 feet on our mountaineering skis. We packed into the 10th Mountain Hut with 45 pound packs for an exquisite "Jeremiah Johnson" wilderness experience. Didn't need a tattoo to succeed and folks back at the cabin cheered us and took pictures of our successful quest.
Tattoos? Emerson said, “Youth; it’s wasted on the young!”
Most people that buy tattoos live to regret their youthful mistake by age 30. For the ones that don’t, they sink into a world unknown to most healthy people that enjoy a positive self-image without the need for being noticed for what they painted on their bodies instead of what they earned by their participation in life.
As for me, a lot of people watch while I dance my wife into fabulous spins, swirls and fantastic patterns on the dance floors around Denver. They cheer and notice our joy and passion as our feet ‘paint’ the dance floor. They applaud the moves, the motion and the fun we share while twirling around Grizzly Rose, Electric Cowboy and Adam’s Mark dance floors. Instead of tattoos, we took dance lessons!
It’s more fun to be noticed for what you earned rather than what you painted
on your body with no personal effort.