Perseverance, integrity, strength
If I was in the market for a great pick-up line (which I decidedly am not), this would be a prime candidate: tell me about your tattoo. You can learn a great deal about someone from how they answer this question – the what, why, where, and whether they choose to mark their body. It should probably be included as a question on internet dating services, given the large number of people on the dating scene who sport one or more tattoos.
Which, for purposes of this post, is neither here nor there, but I thought I’d mention it.
Anyhow, I struck up an interesting conversation with a stranger last week at the Thursday night Arthur Murray dance party during a Hustle (which makes me dizzy, so I abstain). Ken sat down next to me and inquired about my tattoo and I asked about his elbow-to-wrist Japanese lettering (which I noticed during a cha-cha, of all things).
Here’s a picture. Gorgeous, huh? It says “perseverance, integrity, and strength through honor,” qualities aspired to by Samurai warriors. This is the way of life contained in Bushido, a centuries-old code of conduct roughly translated as “the way of the warrior,” a little bit like the chivalry of the knights of old but a whole lot more Buddhist. Mastery of martial arts and the ways of war are not enough for a great civilization – one must have principles and behave, if I might say so, like ladies and gentlemen.
Ken is not a Samurai, though he practiced martial arts for many years. He believes in this code and wanted to keep it in front of him at all times, which is easy to do when it’s on your arm 24/7. The constant presence of these words serves a purpose akin to the ritual fringes that Jews are commanded to wear on their clothing — you really have to go out of your way to ignore them, which is likely the point. It’s a visible and strong statement of belief, one that says much about the person who chooses it.