Semicolons and Life

I recently an article about the new tattoo rage: a semi-colon. People are apparently getting them tattood anywhere and everywhere: behind their ear, on their wrist, ankle, foot, lower abdomen, butt, etc…  yes, anywhere and everywhere.  The “movement” was apparently started in 2013 and is meant to express that, at any given moment, life isn’t over yet.  Life is always in progress.  Life isn’t a sentence that stops until you’re dead.  And truthfully, if you’ve done anything to make your mark on the world, your sentence doesn’t even stop when you die.  It gets paraphrased, reread, remembered, etc because you left something behind.  You either left stories about the things you did, or you wrote stories about cool stuff others did.

As I thought about that concept – and I do appreciate it – I realized that there might be another meaning and a motivation that we could find.  So, true to form, I got online and did a (very little) bit of research, but here’s what I came up with.

According to dictionary.com, a semicolon is:

The punctuation mark used to indicate a major division in a sentence where a more distinct separation is felt between clauses or items on a list than is indicated by a comma as between the two clauses of a compound sentence.

Now I’d like to replace “sentence” with “life” and “clauses” with “events.”  That would change this to:

The punctuation mark used to indicate a major division in a life where a more distinct separation is felt between events or items on a list than is indicated by a comma as between the two events of a compound life.

Obviously life is full of more than two events, but how many seriously major events are there in life?  For people who live either a truly adventurous life or a truly challenging one, there may be a great many serious events; life changing events; events that will forever leave a mark in a person’s memory and cause a change in how they view existence.  THOSE kind of major events aren’t that frequent – at least, we hope not.  Some of them are true blessings.  A great many more seem to be the bigger challenges that we fight not to let overwhelm us.

If you think about the semicolon as representing those major challenges, whether you beat them or adapted to a change they created, then the semicolon is more than an indicator that life isn’t over yet; it becomes a mark indicating your strength in overcoming or adapting to a major life event.  A tattoo of such would be a reminder of your strength; your adaptability; your will; your endurance.  In that light, it’d be easy to understand why people are getting semicolon tattoos.  In fact, understood that way, it’d be amazing not to see semicolon tattoos, shirts, posters, coffee cups, etc. I’d love to see this “movement” that’s two years old now expand to a larger audience.

All too often it seems like I encounter someone who feels defeated or close to it.  There are plenty of people in the world, and you see them every day, who seem beaten down or overwhelmed by a circumstance of life.  Each and every one of them seems to have their “crutch,” and I don’t use that term in a negative way.  Each one of them has something that is propping them up.  It might be their family or friends; it might be religious belief and daily prayer; it might be alcohol or drugs.  Not all of those crutches are positive, ya’ know?

We also see people facing enormous challenges, whether they’re mental, emotional, physical or circumstantial and those people are just taking the challenges in stride – as if life would make less sense without the challenges; as if challenge is just a part of life that they feel incomplete without.

So, what if we changed the font size on the semicolon dependent on how the events of life impacted a person?  For that first group of people – the challenged and near overwhelmed ones – the semicolon would be, what… about 1000 point?  72 point looks pretty big on my screen, but a semicolon that’s near overwhelming and almost crushing someone.. that’d have to be HUGE.

For that second group though – the folks who take challenge in stride and almost thrive on it – the semicolon would be nothing more than subscript.  It’d be a barely noticeable note in their life.

You would think that the first group’s semicolons would never be forgotten.  You would think that major life challenges and events would be unforgettable.  Surprisingly, it’s been my experience that those folks often forget such major challenges almost immediately after the challenge has either been met or has been removed due to other circumstance.

On the other hand, you’d think the second group would forget such trivial challenges in their day to day life – and again I’ve seen the exact opposite. That second group seems to want to remember the major events, how they met them, how they were changed by them, the lessons learned throughout them and more.  They seem to grow based on the knowledge and experience gained within the time span of that semicolon.

So, my questions for you – after all of this – are…

How many really big semicolons have you encountered in your life?

Do you view the semicolons as welcome and helpful even when they are really challenging?

Will you view semicolons differently after reading this?

Finally – and this one might be the most important of all – where would you get (or did you get) your semicolon tattoo?

Keep living life.  Do it LARGE and enjoy every day.

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If you appreciated this blog entry, please check out the author’s book, “Above Dirt: Motivational Thoughts Supporting A Positive Outlook,” available on Kindle HERE.

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