Tao of Shamus
It's funny how you can live your whole life as one person, wake up one day, and realize, hey, that's not really me. Once you come to that realization, the path you find yourself on can take you on some very awesome and wondrous adventures.
I guess that is what happened with me, and is what has lead me here sharing my story with you. I have to be honest, I've read through some other experiences, and there is a common thread that I have to admit to feeling already, one of being home, of finding a place where I am welcome and accepted, and where my choices are not looked upon as weird or wrong. It's much the same feeling as when I realized I was a Witch and told people, or came out of the broom closet so to speak, but that's a bedtime story for another night.
I had always looked with awe and some amazement at people who had the courage to go through some type of body modification. An ex girlfriend introduced me to BME almost two years ago. But I never really had the courage, or desire, because that's what I think makes everything work, courage, desire, passion, to do it myself. Then I woke up one day to find that I had changed. It was odd, it was not some euphony or religious experience, it just happened, a knowing that I was not as complete as I wanted to be, as time has gone on I have found that I look at body modification more as body completion, this is how I have always been meant to look, it's just a little hard to be born this way.
With this new found.....I guess freedom I set off mentally to become who I am today. It has been, and is a long road that has seen me go through a terribly self destructive relationship, lose almost everything I hold dear not once but twice, leave a well paying "respectable" job, move back home with my parents, return to university, and along the way move closer and closer to the real me, with my new found understanding of who I was, what I wanted to look like and who I wanted to be. I set of to reconstruct me into, well me.
I guess I should share some of who I am with you before I continue. I'm a soon to be 35 year old boy, I began my journey into body mods at an older age than most, 26, but is there really such a thing as too old? I don't think so, I think that for some the knowledge of who they are and how they want to look comes earlier than for others. I really truly believe that if you are lucky enough to find yourself, regardless of the age, you have been given a gift. You receive yet another gift if you are lucky enough to realize this, and then take action towards becoming.......well.....yourself. So in that aspect I have been blessed twice already in my life.
I call this journey I am on the "Tao of Shamus"; it's the "way" in which I have finally chosen to live my life. Now please understand, I don't believe everyone needs to go through some type of body mod in order to find themselves, this is just the path that leads me to finding myself. Since I first found my true self and set upon a path to change my body to be more in tune with how I see it, and feel that I should look I have had 11 different mods done, and I have plans for a number of more before I am "done" if you can ever truly be such a thing. I hope to be lucky enough to not only share this story with you, but the story of each of those experiences as well.
I first submitted this story on January 1st 2003, and the first draft of it was, I would hate to use the word rejected, because it was far from being rejected, it was sent back to me with some great points, which brings me back to the whole feeling of belonging and community. The people who reviewed it cared enough about me, and my story and the experiences I had had to point out some great things to me with regard to how I had told it.
So I find myself here again, but this time I'm more interested in talking about what has happened within me to bring me here, and the things I have realized about myself, and about the people I am close to as a result of the changes I have gone through.
Funny, but body mods are more than just changing the way your body looks and feels, it changes who you are at the core of your being. A tattoo can change how you are viewed in society, but it changes "you" on a much deeper level. You have forever altered the way the body you were born with looks, you have changed it in a fashion that hopefully lends itself more to who you really are, at least that was and is the case with me. My tattoos are symbols of what I believe in, of what I hold dear, of who I am. They are a testament of my Tao, of my way. Most people will look at them and never know that, they will see a man with tattoos, and come to a conclusion about me based on the fact that I have made a choice to change the look of my body. Depending on where I am at the time that will usually dictate what that person thinks, if I am among other people who have tattoos and body mods they will understand and appreciate the work that went into the art, and they will see it for that , ART, if I am among people who consider themselves to be "normal" or who think of themselves as "upper class", well they may view them as a sign that I am less than they are. If I find myself within the pagan community then they will see them as signs of my belief. The same with my piercing, most of them are covered by the cloths I wear, but if I find myself in a position where I may be close with someone, I have found it is best to let them know about them first, as they same type of judgment may be past upon me as a result of how I have chosen to change my body. Again, it all depends on who I am with.
I am lucky, for the most part I have found that because the changes I have made make me feel better about myself and that is communicated to those around me in a sense of self confidence and peace with who I am.
While my family, my Mom and my Dad, were not thrilled that their once "good" little boy had gone and done such things to his body.....my Mom once actually said to me "when are you going to stop abusing your body" as if I was poisoning myself with alcohol or drugs, they soon came to realize and see that what I had done had changed more than how my body looked on the outside, it had changed me on the inside.
These changes had made me more comfortable in my own skin.....I guess that's it, body modification is about making you more comfortable in your own skin.
Maybe it has something to do with moving from the skin you were born with to the skin you are meant to have as part of who you are as a human being, as a spirit, as a reflection of what the god and goddess are, in your eyes.
I have learned that it does not matter what others think of you, of the choices you make or how you look as long as you have harmed no one on your journey.
I look at life now through new eyes, with a new soul and a new spirit, because the changes I have made and continue to make to myself are more than skin deep, the piercing, the ink, all find their way to my soul and change who I once was for who I am now. Life is such that it is almost impossible to LIVE without going through some type of change, I've just chosen to have control over the changes that take place, with my body, my soul and the direction in which I live.
I can see now why the Native Americans held such reverence for the Sun Dance, and why Shaman use piercing as a more "natural" way in which to visit the spirit world. I can see now how the Maori people use tattoo's to tell stories, all of these things I have experienced first hand and have a true feel and deep respect for now. I can speak first hand of the transformation that comes from these things, and how the rush of the needle can last long past the moment of the tattoo or piercing.
I have found that the changes I have made have had a profound effect on my life, while I have had people ask some very ignorant questions and while I have had people end relationships with me before they have had the chance to get to know me because of my mod's I would not change anything I have done. I truly feel I am a better person for being true to myself, to my beliefs and for accepting them.
Regardless of what someone else might think or how other may look at you, as long as you are true to yourself, as long as you hurt no one, as long as the changes teach you something about yourself.....well, feel sorry for those who would judge you based on something as simple as a piercing or a tattoo, but also accept their view, because for them they are part of what they believe in, and their views are as important to them as our piercing and tattoos are to us.
I know that the journey I'm on has really only just begun, my Tao is still in it's infancy and is still a long way from being complete or total, but today I am closer to who I believe I am, I have not so much reinvented myself as found my true self. My Mom gave birth to me 34 years ago, but I gave myself life 9 years ago.
I'm lucky to have realized this. I'm lucky to have found BME, and the people who are here. I know I have found a place to grow in, and people to learn from and share with.
Thanks for listening, for taking the time to read this, let me know what you think, and hopefully I can share some more with you.
At the end of it all, be true to yourself....you'll be amazed to see what you find!!! I know I am every day!!!
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 17 Jan. 2003