It’s been almost 3 years since I got my last tattoo during SXSW 2010. The letters JFDI tattooed on my right forearm have served their purpose – as a personal reminder (at least twice a day when I brush my teeth) to JFDI. Unexpectedly, the mantra has embedded itself in the culture of Indy Hall, and spread beyond Indy Hall as well.
For almost as long, I’ve been thinking about my next tattoo. All of my tattoos are language/word, typography based, which is something I wanted to keep doing: In addition to JFDI, I have a band of binary that translates to veritas, and wrist tattoos of <love> and </hate>.
A few words have inspired me to consider getting them as a tattoo, but I couldn’t decide on typography or placement that got me excited.
Yesterday at 2:20pm I read this post by Seth Godin and immediately posted into the Masterclass team chat room:
2 hours later I left my spot on the couch at Indy Hall to go for a walk around the block and get some fresh air. By the time I’d gotten to the corner of 2nd and Market, I decided to turn right instead of left, and ended up inside of Old City Body Graphics studio, and in the chair of Armen Koroghlian. An hour and change later, I left with this:
“A fermata is an element of musical notation indicating that the note should be sustained. Exactly how much longer it is held is up to the discretion of the conductor or performer.”
This year, one of my personal themewords was “sustainability”. It’s already a core value of Coworking & Indy Hall, but I realized the importance of considering sustainability in the rest of my life. I’ve made it a part of my daily meditations to think about balancing growth with resilience, both personally and professionally.
Meanwhile, I’ve got this JFDI tattoo on my arm – JUST FUCKING DO IT. A chant that the doers recite to themselves in their heads.
JFDI is a nuanced reminder for me. JFDI isn’t “Just Fucking Do Everything” or “Just Fucking Do Anything”. It’s “Just Fucking Do It”, where “It” is the thing that I know I’m supposed to be doing, but aren’t for some reason. It’s not reckless doing. It’s thoughtful execution pushing through the resistance.
I decided to place my new fermata tattoo on the same arm, but on the inside opposite the JFDI. This makes my arm a bit of a two-sided coin, with JFDI on one side and a symbol representing a controlled, deliberate pause. The two act in compliment, and because the fermata is on the inside, I’ll see it more often than I see the JFDI.
There’s a bit of a twist of irony in this story in the fact that there was less than a 2 hour pause between my impulse to want this symbol permanently drawn on my body and a needle touching my skin. But that doesn’t make the decision any less deliberate.
In my life, I’m the composer, the conductor, and one of the performers. JFDI is my instrument of choice. I chose how long to pause, because it up to my discretion. But the symbol reminds me of that choice.
A special thanks to Seth for providing the inspiration, and Armen for fulfilling my impulse and doing beautiful work.
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