Monday Morning Musings

Posted on July 8, 2019 under Monday Morning Musings with 2 comments

Why? Why not.


I got a tattoo.

There. I’ve said it.

Guess what? I’m not the first person in their 60’s to get one so it’s not a big deal. As a matter of fact, according to my tattoo artist, older people are becoming one of the fastest growing segments of the population deciding to fling off the shackles of giving a crap, and adorning their bodies with art that in some way represents who they are.

So when did I have my epiphany and decide to become a rebel?

It really started 8 years ago when I ran the Boston Marathon for the first time. I really wanted to get a tattoo so that I could inflict more pain on my body, as if I hadn’t already done enough on the 42 kilometre run from Hopkinton to downtown Boston. For some reason that I can’t explain, I decided not to proceed with a discreet Boston Marathon tattoo on my lower leg.

During the month of May, I walked across Spain. I completed the Camino putting one foot in front of the other over a million times over 713 kilometres. At the end of a long day on the trail, I was sitting in a bar with fellow walkers. No doubt we were talking about our blisters. The guy to my left was sporting a Camino tattoo and in that instant my mind was made up to get one exactly like this when I got to the final destination in the city of Santiago de Compostela.

Several days later, in the village of Hontanas, I found myself once again drinking beer. A group of us were out on the patio of a bar soaking up the sunshine after what had been a fairly cool day on the Camino. There was Clementine from France, Lily from Russia, Noah from the Western Sahara, Jordi from Barcelona and Rami from Finland. I loved these kind of encounters meeting interesting people and hearing their life story.

I believe it was on our second beer that I told Rami about my tattoo plan. I didn’t ask him his age. It’s not polite to ask a man his age (!) but I’m guessing he was in his 60s. He immediately toasted me and said that he would also get a tattoo when he returned home. A pact was consummated at the bottom of glass #2.

Aleksandra Ferek is a young woman from Poland. She is a lawyer and an architect. I walked with her on a couple of occasions. After mentioning my tattoo idea, she said that she would design a Camino tattoo that reflected who I was. By the time I reached Santiago de Compostela, the destination city, I was anxious to immediately get the tattoo done before my courage wavered. I had been given the name of a reputable tattoo shop. My walking partner for the last two days of the Camino, Virginie from France, accompanied me. After chatting with the tattoo artist, I decided not to get it done there. Virginie didn’t like the feel of the place.

So, I put the idea on hold and reckoned that getting it done back home made sense on many levels.

I asked around and was given the name of Sean Brophy, a local tattoo artist with an excellent reputation. I had an initial meeting with Sean to discuss the process. I found him very engaging and sincere. I was so taken with him that I published a story about his life.

On June 26th, I got my tattoo. I can’t lie. I found it painful but this kind of pain is temporary. The tattoo is permanent!

Let me briefly explain the tattoo. The primary feature is a scallop shell which is the official symbol of the Camino. This goes back centuries and there are several theories on the significance of the shell. Most of them have their basis on religion and the proximity of Santiago de Compostela to the ocean. The figures of the hiker and the musician are self- explanatory to anyone who knows me. The word “ultreia”is believed to have been used by medieval pilgrims who walked these same paths centuries ago. It means to keep going or reach beyond, a word of encouragement to fellow travelers.

Not everyone is a fan of tattoos. I would hardly consider myself a raging proponent of them now that I have joined the “rebel” class. But like so many things in life as I age, I just refuse to get my knickers in a knot about things that are just not all that important. I received one private message from someone who saw the picture of me and Sean in the story I posted. This person seemed to think that I was somehow grandstanding and trying to draw attention to myself. I thanked him for his comments and told him that I was respectful of his opinion. But I couldn’t leave this alone and replied to him that I was a) simply having some fun; b) I wanted a reminder of one of the greatest experiences in my life and c) that I wasn’t trying to be cool. I am far too old to be considered cool. Cool rhymes with fool. I’m just an old fool having a bit of fun.

On the very same day that I received my badge of honour, some 6,242 kilometres away in Finland, Rami got his tattoo. We shared pictures and some laughs. We hope to meet again someday.

Thanks to my dear Polish friend, Aleksandra for creating my tattoo.

“I am a canvass of my experience. My story is etched in lines and shading, and you can read it on my arms, my legs, my shoulders, and my stomach.” Kat Von D.

One out of four ain’t bad. I’ll stick to one tattoo for the time being!

Have a great week.


Rami’s tattoo

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2 Responses to Monday Morning Musings

  1. Brenda Rose says:

    As my former choir director was fond of saying, “We don’t grow older, we simply grow into who we were meant to be.”

  2. Christina Duykers says:

    Now you have given my daughter another reason to try to get me to get a tattoo as well! Maybe I will, after I get through my story!!

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