Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Tattoo Trio, aka Happy Birthday To Me

Away back in November, I asked my readers for blog topics, which believe it or not, I'm still working my way through. Joy gave me the topic "tattoos", and today is the day, because it's my 32nd birthday, and while 32 is an unexciting age, I'm going to commemorate my first birthday back in the States with a new tattoo.

I got my first tat when I was 20 and in college. At the time, I was taking Arabic classes, and though I never felt like I was really getting it, I loved it and was doing pretty well with it. The script is beautiful, and I spent a lot of time practicing my handwriting. I knew that if I were ever to get a tattoo, it had to be something that meant something to me and would always mean something to me. After a lot of deliberation, I chose the word "faith", for the reason that I may not always have love or hope, but I'd always have my faith.

There was an Arabic calligraphist on the U of A staff. I asked him to create a calligraphy design for me for the word iman. He gave me a nice design, but it was a classic calligraphy design, not quite what I had in mind, and it wasn't very tattoo-able. I then discovered a contemporary calligraphist online, Nihad Dukhan, and contacted him. For a pretty little sum I now can't remember (well over $100), he designed me a beautiful iman, which I loved enough to have tattooed on my right foot.

(Why did I not just get the word as it is in Arabic if I loved the script so much? It felt too plain and a little too trendy. It is beautiful when written out... إيمان ... read it from right to left... but I wanted something more artistic.)

A few years later, I was living in Scotland and was ready for a second tattoo. I already had faith, so the idea struck me to go with a trio - "faith, hope and love" - the "greatest of the spiritual gifts". On Nihad Dukhan's website, there was already a design for hope, so rather than have him design a special one for me, I just used that image. I loved it anyway. I had it placed on the middle of my upper back, between my shoulder blades. Hope in Arabic, by the way, is pronounced amal and looks like this: أمل

By the way, did I mention that both my foot and my spine are incredibly bony places for tattoos, and I don't like pain? Yeah, the actual act of getting inked is not my favourite part.

For many years, I've been itching to get that last tattoo - love - but it's never worked out. I've never been really sure where I'd like to have it. My left tricep has always been my go-to place, but for various reasons, I've never quite committed to it. I've also considered my right wrist and my right side under the ribs. I even briefly considered my right foot but just didn't want my tattoos to be that symmetrical.

So here I am years later... eight years, possibly. Sadly, my original trio just isn't what it once was. Incredulously, I did lose my faith, something I thought could never happen. In a way, it seems odd that I want to finish the trio - maybe that's the Type A side of my personality? But also, it still seems fitting. While my faith is not what it was, nor is my hope, love still abounds. (Cheesy.) Love still conquers all. (Just going with the cheesy.) I have faith and hope already tattooed on me, there's no going back, and I'd never want to go back. Both of those things are huge parts of my life, and they made me who I am today. I don't regret either tattoo; I still love them dearly. Now, however, is the perfect time for getting love, or al-hib, or الحب 

The three greatest gifts are faith, hope and love. Love is meant here in the brotherly sense, the universal sense, the love for one's neighbor and all mankind. It is also the greatest of all the three gifts. Nothing as of yet has broken or destroyed my love for other people.

(That's not to say I'm great at it all the time.)

One other thing I love about the trio, is that they all represent the different segments, or if it were a book, volumes, of my life.  The first tattoo was from My Life Part 1 - Raised in Arkansas.  The second tattoo was from Part 2 - The Scottish Years.  This third one will be Part 3 - Return of the McFarlanes.  (If I make another major move again, I guess I'll just need to get a fourth one... I do have my eye on "peace"!)

So on my 32nd birthday I once again return to Mr Dukhan's site for my tattoo. I love this design as much as the others... and again, I'm happy I don't have to pay for a custom drawing! I just need to decide where... my wrist or my tricep.  I hope to get it done this month.  I'm pretty excited!!


  1. 1 John 3:18: Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

    Makes me think that putting "love" near your hand would be appropriate. So maybe the wrist... ?

  2. I like that, Ruth. Originally I thought the wrist because of the nails in Jesus' hands. That's not really the reason now, but I do like the idea of love being something you do, thus having it on my hands.... I am leaning towards wrist to be honest!


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