Purpose, Language And Tattoos

The first tattoo I got was almost a year ago now. I had the idea for it but I kept hesitating to go and get it out of fear.

I’m sitting at a cafe one Saturday afternoon and it was the biggest coincidence that the cafe owners were also tattoo artists and were tattooing people for free to celebrate the opening of their new place.

I was seated on the floor, incense in the air, floating it’s way from the big Ornament of a big wooden Buddha. There was traditional Khmer music playing – these hypnotic sounds were appropriate, as they helped to settle the nausea.

People gathered around to watch the foreigner get a tattoo in their very own script. I heard them read out and speak between each other, “kolbamnang”, they would say. In English, this translates to the word “purpose”.

If there was one thing being in Cambodia taught me, it’s that having a sense of purpose in your life is a such an important thing for everyone. I could see the sense of purpose in the eyes of some of these Cambodians who came from poor backgrounds, and this sense of purpose gave them their meaning and drive.

My experience with purpose was so profound that I had it stamped on me so this wisdom goes with me wherever I go, acting like a compass.

I would like to continue with this tattoo, maybe getting different words in all different languages – a personal set of values with me wherever I go, visually.

I find language more and more fascinating these days. Living in Asia has exposed me to a lot of different language. It’s said that each different language has its own unique place in the brain.

Brain surgeon Dr. Rahul Jandail says in his book, ‘Neurofitness’ that he was performing brain surgery on a woman in order to remove a tumour. This lady spoke both English and Spanish.

Before Dr. Jandail performed surgery, he told the woman that in order to perform this surgery, they would have to cut through a certain part of the brain, destroying part of its function.

It turned out that this woman had to end up making a choice between whether she wanted to keep English or keep Spanish. From memory, she chose to keep English as she was from the US. But regardless of the decision that woman made, it intrigued the hell out of me when I learned about this story.