Reciting old Asian text (having no clue what I’m saying, but understanding that it means something important), wrapped in a yellow robe, being watch by my closest friends and family is how I started my path of becoming a “man”.
This coming of age ceremony is not looked lightly upon. I spent a few nights going to the temple to rehearse with a few more nights of memorizing my lines. It had all came to the day where I was to become a novice monk; to learn, obtain culture, and blessings that many other males at my age don’t receive. Although, in Laos every man has to go through this at one time through his life; exceptions are made for the males in America because they don’t see the importance of this experience or just don’t care enough.
I did this because I was asked too, I also promised a lot of family members that when they pass I would do it for them (my journey is supposed to bring the deceased blessings, like paying homage), and because I don’t want to lose my culture like so many people have.
After this experience I wanted to get something that I will always remember. I did many things others didn’t. What better way that to do it with a tattoo? I would have gotten a t-shirt that said “I’m a Monk,” but they don’t make those.
I’ve had this idea of getting something with a certain style in mind but with my twist to it. What I ended up getting or adding too. Is a traditional Japanese tattoo style, however, I incorporated the mythological beasts and demons I grew up hearing about. On my chest is currently a demon that has human shape, but has tusks and he can grow to titan sizes to battle the gods and protect others. I was going to add a “NAG,” mythological snake that asked Buddha if he can be as enlightened as him. Being that the snake was not human; he could reach enlightenment so was given the chance to protect Buddha. And many statues have him behind the Buddha.
It is not completely finished; I only had three hours of work done (to tell you the truth that is all I could handle for the day).
But what I have so far I am happy about and only plan to add more to it. Do I think I will ever regret what is on my body permanently? I doubt it. Does this tattoo have enough to tell people who think tattoos are dumb and pointless that it isn’t? I hope so. Do I believe that if people understand why someone may have gotten the tattoo, I can get them to not pass judgment before getting the full story? I think so…