Posted July 17th, 2016
Of all the ways we work to improve ourselves, forgiveness is one of the most important. We often forgive people for minor trespasses daily, but a lot of people leave it there. That’s their forgiveness practice. You forgive your friend for calling you a name, or the person who apologizes for not inviting you to a party. There is far more to forgiveness. What about the guy who butted in line at Starbucks? Or the guy who cut you off on your way to work? Most people will carry those things all day until they simply forget, but never forgive.
The first thing to remember is that the world does not revolve around us. Each person out there is going about their own lives, and simple things like someone butting in line could have 100 different reasons that are beyond the scope of information we have. Maybe they didn’t see you. Maybe their friend is the person in front of you, and they just came back form the bathroom. Or maybe they’re just being a jerk. Even if they are, we don’t know why they’re behaving that way. Again, there’s countless reasons for the behavior of others, and it’s not our job to dissect and criticize it. Our only job is to accept it and move forward.
What about the people who have intentionally wronged us? People who have done things to harm us, or make our lives difficult? When someone gives a genuine apology for something they have done to hurt us, it can be a lot harder to forgive. There is real pain involved emotionally, psychologically, and sometimes physically. The act of apologizing in itself creates a bridge for you to forgive. It is up to you to cross it, and begin healing and moving forward.
One of the most difficult things to forgive is those who continue to wish us harm, and intentionally hurt us, or blame us for their situation. People who would rather scapegoat a situation onto you than take their portion of responsibility, who bad mouth you to their friends, who will do anything in their power to make things difficult for you. Our enemies. How can we possibly cultivate forgiveness for these people who continually try to make our lives hell? It starts from an understanding that they want they same thing that we all want, and that’s happiness. Everyone wants happiness. Most people just don’t understand how to get it.
Have you ever carried a hatred for someone? Have you walked around just hoping people get what’s coming to them, or stay angry over the guy who cut you off? We’ve all had times where we’ve hoped someone who wronged us meets with physical harm. How does that make you feel? Does anyone feel actual happiness when they are angry or vengeful? Of course not. We can derive pleasure from revenge and sticking it to someone we don’t like, but we don’t get any kind of real happiness or joy from it. Carrying those emotions only creates a bitterness inside of you that grows.
The Buddha said, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” This is the world those who wish you ill will live in. They are grasping a hot coal, planning to throw it at you. When you look at it from an intellectual standpoint, we know that violence always begets violence. These are vicious cycles that only continue as you fuel the fire. The key is to be able to look at them, and understand that their actions come from a place of darkness within themselves. They can’t understand that they are only harming themselves, and this will not bring them any happiness whatsoever. They do not have self accountability for how they act, or for their own emotions. This is a terrible place to live your life. I lived my life in that place for years. I used to curse people’s names and scream that I wanted their children to grow up without a parent. I was the one in pain, and I manifested that outwardly and targeted it at others.
So what are we to do? How can we let go of the pain those people cause us, and instead forgive them? We need to first learn about our pain. We need to get to the root of why we are feeling how we feel. Every single negative emotion can be broken down, and at the core of every bit of hurt, every piece of betrayal and sense of injustice we feel, will come out the other side with fear as its main source. All negative emotions are steeped in fear. Fear is insecurity. It makes us think and act irrationally. It causes reactionary instead of responsive behavior. When you feel betrayed or hurt, dig deep within yourself to find that fear. You need to acknowledge it. Acknowledge it, and understand that it is without base.
Even if you have done nothing to deserve the treatment you get, you have a part to play in it. That part is how you respond both outwardly and inwardly. Do some soul searching, and learn to forgive yourself for your own shortcomings. We are all flawed beings, and we all deserve love. You deserve love. Do not be defined by the outward experience of your life. You deserve love, kindness, and forgiveness, and the first person who needs to show it to you is yourself. The key takeaways from this are two1) learn to forgive yourself, and 2) understand that when others act out, they are doing it as an outward representation of their own pain. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Only through this, can you gain a lasting peace.
Posted July 10th, 2016
I’ve decided to do something new on my website and spotlight a different artist from the shop every month. So artist of the month for July is Dan Anthony!
Dan did his apprenticeship here at Art Machine, and has been a hard worker from the start. He came in with a natural talent, and has worked diligently to hone his skills over the past few years. He has a passion for tattooing and the traditions it is rooted in. Dan’s ethic is what stands out, as he constantly paints and produces art. You’d be hard pressed to step into the shop and not find Dan either tattooing or painting some new designs.
He prefers traditional work, focusing on bold designs with heavy black. He’s also developed a liking for black work designs that use geometry and linework as the basis of the image. Though these areas are his main focus, Dan is able to work with just about any design you bring to him. While everyone here prefers to work by appointment, he keeps time in his schedule to handle walk ins, so keep that in mind next time you wake up with an itch for a new tattoo!
If you’re considering adding to your body of work, Dan is an excellent choice for that bold, dynamic traditional tattoo you’re looking for. He is a genuinely gracious and friendly person, who will be able to give you a wonderful tattooing experience. I can’t say for certain, but I’m pretty sure he will also practice his sweet dance moves for you if you ask nicely. Did you know in high school he was captain of his jazz dance troupe? All that jazz is still in those hands, and you can tell by his tattoos!
If you’re interested in getting work from Dan, you can email him HERE or you can call the shop at 267-239-2724. Or stop in! We love visitors and give them candy. Unless you’re diabetic, in which case no candy for you. Make sure when you stop by, you bring an offering of sandwiches and coffee.
Posted June 26th, 2016
I’m opening my wait list to large single session tattoos and projects for 2017. If you’ve been looking to get some work done and have been waiting for me to open up my wait list, now’s the time! I will be taking large single session work (think shoulder to elbow outer arm, outer calf, chest panels) and projects (think sleeves, full backs, full legs.) These openings will not be until 2017, and consideration will be taken based on the work. If I feel I will not be able to do my absolute best for you, I will refer you to an artist who will knock it out of the park. Every single client deserves my best work, and giving anything less than that is unfair to both the client and to myself.
If you’d like to kick around ideas, please email your concept, location, and size preference to firstname.lastname@example.org, or click the contact form on any page of my website. If your tattoo is a cover up tattoo, please include clear pictures of your existing work. I’ll go over everything and get back to you as quickly as I can.
Also, here’s my dog. She’s a ridiculous Australian Shepherd, and she’s a puppy princess. I’m a sucker and I’m that guy who shows everyone pictures of his dog until you lose interest and try to escape the conversation. So shut up and look at my dog. That is all.
So there you go! I’m looking forward to doing some fun work next year, so let’s do this!
Posted June 12th, 2016
It seems like the oldest question mankind has asked is “what is the meaning of life?” Philosophers and theologians spend their entire lives trying to solve this question. Why are we here? What is our purpose? It can drive you completely insane. Yet you can’t help but dwell on it from time to time.
We all want to know what our individual purpose is. What role do we play on this chunk of rock hurtling through space? In the vast scope of it, it’s easy to say we serve no purpose. Our lives have no meaning. And to a degree, I agree with that. Life is meaningless, everything sucks, and the only certainties in life are pain and inevitable death. Pain and death are completely unavoidable. These things are bound to happen, and there isn’t anything you can do about it. Chances are, unless you’re one of the very few prolific people who affects change on a global scale, you will be forgotten within a couple of generations. All of your life’s work for nothing.
So where does that leave us? Well, it leaves us with the certainty of death and impermanence. It also leaves us with the fact that we have to go through this life, regardless of whether it has meaning or not. You could spend that time in selfish pursuit, seeking out pleasures and hedonistic desires, but it never brings any peace. That question of your purpose will still linger when you are on your death bed, and then you will reflect on the life you led.
There is another option though. If we examine what happens throughout the course of a person’s life, it always boils down to the relationships we build, and the affect that has on others. So we may not be a famous and prolific actor, or writer, or politician, but we will be a brother, or husband, or father. The quality of your life is directly related to the quality of your relationships. It is the pursuit of your love and joy. It is helping others achieve their goals. In helping other people, we find a connection with them. We find respect, and a mutual understanding of our benefit to one another. This radiates to the people they know. And the people they know, and so on, and so on. We are all connected.
Our lives may serve no great and epic purpose. We may not experience an afterlife, or reincarnation, and we may just go in the ground when we die. We won’t know until that day comes. But in the interim, we can experience a life of compassion, and our success will not be measured by the zeros in our bank accounts, or pages in a history book. Our success will be measured on our integrity, and how we treated other people. There is no greater meaning to life, than living a life of great meaning. You are a hero to someone. Be that hero.