By Kevin Sheehan, Special Columnist
“Vivus: An Exposition Of A Volatile Mind” by Kevin Sheehan is available in digital and in print on Amazon.com!
Regardless of weekly content, this column is designed to help others expand their way of thinking and promote creativity, empathy, and thought in general.
It is only fitting that the “Etched In Ink” fourth installment references one of my many numerical tattoos, even more specifically, the number four. It, like every tattoo, has a deeper meaning than just four being my favorite number.
The stonework design represents a foundation. Even if it is chipped and crumbling, it is still standing strong, despite the weak nature. The number four represents, well, my attempt at maintaining humility.
Back when I was using drugs and drinking, I always seemed to have four dollars in my account. When I would get paid from work, I would always pay my bills, and then buy whatever substance I was using with whatever money was left. Somehow, for several months, I always ended up with four dollars in my account and to my name. So why get a tattoo of it?
Well, for starters, it helps me to remember my foundation. I built my current life wrestling away from the grips of addiction. So to come from where I was to where I am now, obviously I have made some significant changes. Along with those changes comes new perspectives as well. But this tattoo is to remind me that I was not always ideal. It is my reminder to myself that I am not perfect. It is a reminder that I did things I am not proud of and regret. However, it is also my reminder that I will never allow myself to get back to that point again.
But most of all, and certainly most important, it is my reminder that I should never be judgmental. We seem to forget that we were ever naïve, or made poor decisions. It is easy in life to watch others make questionable decisions and pass judgement, yet we forget that we may have once made the same decision.
While it is important to never live in the past, we need to remember where we came from and to learn from our mistakes. It may be easy to see friends or people we know battle with issues, but I remember the pain I went through when I was using. The struggle, the financial hardship I put upon myself, the miserable and cracking foundation that led me to who I have become, is perfectly characterized by this tattoo.
Perhaps you may have never struggled with addiction, but we all have progressed in some way in life. Whether we went to college, whether we picked up a hobby, or done anything else to change our life, we have stepped forward. But it is important that we remember that there was a time we did not know or understand something. Why is that important? So that we do not (intentionally OR unintentionally) demean or judge others for not knowing.
It is possible for people we meet to not know simple things, not for lack of ambition, but for the lack of someone to ever teach them. Maybe instead of making fun of a friend for not knowing how to change a tire or drive a stick shift, offer to teach them.
Life is a compilation of learning moments, and we can help others live by helping them. But to do so, we must see eye to eye, not by looking down our nose at them. It is a kind thing, it is a loving thing, and it is worthwhile.
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