Something you can’t see in my LinkedIn profile picture is my enormous lion tattoo. Or my peace sign tattoo. Or my yin yang, or my sand dollar, or my sun, or my tweety bird. Each one has a special meaning to me, but above all they are signs of my passion for all things nature. In this post I will be taking a break from my science-heavy articles to entertain you with some super cool inks from my friends.
First up is a small piece on my best friend Kelly. Her first tattoo was a cartoon-like drawing of a heterochromic husky mix- of which she had two. One of the dogs passed away in May, days before my cat of 12 years passed away. Her dog was more than just an animal to her. As someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder, her dogs were everything. They brought her up when she was down and truly stuck around through it all. I think this tattoo was the perfect way to represent her journey with her dogs.
Have you ever watched the anime film Princess Mononoke by Hayao Miyazaki? Tree spirits, or kodama, are creatures from ancient Japanese folklore displayed throughout the movie in tree branches or other forest hideouts. Kodama are a sign of a healthy ecosystem. My partner was moved by the movie’s message of peaceful coexistence between humankind and nature, so he had the magical tree spirits permanently inked on his collarbone.
Have you ever met someone from Maharashtra, India? As a member of a conservative Maharashtian family, my friend Akshay was nervous about getting his first tattoo. Akshay designed the ant maze and had it tattooed to celebrate his first step in the field of wildlife research. He maneuvered obstacles on the way to completing his Masters thesis on ant conservation even though it was his first time doing self-conducted research. This tattoo put all of those emotions of challenge and accomplishment into something tangible (other than the thesis of course).
Another one of Akshay’s tattoos centers around his three-month project to promote biodiversity in the North Western Ghats, a tropical rainforest located in the Ghats Mountains of India. The rain forest is a haven for a multitude of species, but Akshay felt the frog captured the impermanence of life, the immortality of memories, and the work he had done on amphibians and reptiles.
My quick explanation for getting this mesmeric lion tattoo is that it’s my birth symbol. A longer explanation has never been given. That is, until today. I have encountered both anguish and joy during my time on this Earth and this totem serves as a reminder that I can endure these things. As Nelson Mandela once said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear”. To my coworker who always poked at my lion and said, “Hey courage the cowardly lion” in your most annoying voice: You were right. This is courage.
Last but not least I present you the parallel tattoos on my forearms. The peace sign historically represented the British movement for nuclear disarmament but has since gained recognition as a symbol for nonviolence. Poppies are physical representations of hope. The lotus has several meanings but for me it means balance, just like the yin-yang. My sun was tattooed after my sister’s moon, and has a nose ring just like she does. It’s my “solar power” in a way. Finally, the Echinarachnius parma in the lower right corner is a precious little sea creature that loves low tides and has been around for the last 5.3 million years. Sea creatures are ALWAYS good tattoo ideas.
Do you have a nature tattoo? Ever thought of getting one? Comment below 🙂