By Austin Nordyke

         Life can be viewed as a series of choices we constantly make. What to say, what to do, how to handle one of the many dilemmas that are put before us. Most of these decisions are of little importance and almost no thought is needed going into them. Others hold more weight and require thorough contemplation. The vast majority will not impact the rest of our lives, but some of the most interesting decisions we make are the permanent ones.
         Tattoos, and the meanings behind them, are as varied as the growing number of people who choose to get them. For some people it can be as simple as getting what they think will look nice. For others it has to be something more personal. For them it has to be meaningful and sacred. There is no correct and proper amount of seriousness to attribute to deciding what tattoo is right for you, if any. It is subjective and depends entirely on the mindset of whoever decides to make themselves a canvas for the ink. However much thought is put into the decision that leads to them getting a piece of art that improves their life, is as much as there needs to be. There are many things an individual has to consider before getting a tattoo like how the people in their life will react to it and what future employers may think. There is a stigma regarding tattoos that cannot be denied, though many would say that it is dwindling.
         Tattoos may not be for everyone, but for some their meaning carries great significance. San Joaquin Delta College student Anthony King bears a sword in stone on his left arm that represents friends and family King has lost over the years. Bree Mosley’s first tattoo was a semicolon on her wrist. describes the meaning behind this tattoo on its home page, “Your story is not over. A semicolon is used when an author could’ve ended a sentence but chose not to. You are the author and the sentence is your life.” This tattoo, and others like it, serves as a symbol of hope to many of the people who have struggled with self harm and contemplated suicide. A trophy for having survived and overcome any mistakes they may have made in life and a reminder that there were more fatal ones that they thankfully chose not to make. Stockton resident Karmen Havens has tattoos based on music, anime, and video games that have affected her life. The majority of these are inspired by the band Misfits. “This band really did save my life.” said Havens. To outside observers it may just seem like a fan celebrating something she loves, but to the person wearing these tattoos they represents something that helped get her through a difficult time in her life.
         There are people who are intimidated by the permanency and do not trust themselves to decide what they will still love a few decades down the line. The idea of a tattoo appeals to some who are too afraid of how society may react to it. Others are wary of the pain they may experience or any possible hiccup from the physical process of getting it put on. To a select few, they could not imagine their lives without this aspect of it. If the body is as temple, a tattoo is a graffiti-style mural on the side of a building. Many will see it as vandalism, just as many will see it as art, but the only opinion that matters belongs to whoever owns the building.

Tattoos by Danny Juge: