Historical Records on the Skin
Immortality and eternal life. Just like many other people, Steven London is enchanted with the notion of everlastingness. His fascination with this idea explains the meaning behind a great number of his tattoos.
Steven is a first-year student, majoring in political science and international relations. He is a member of Radio Aura, a former senator in the Student Government (SG) and a candidate for SG President.
Having fought in Afghanistan, Steven says he is “blessed to still be alive.” This is the main reason why the idea of surviving and living eternally is very personal to him and why he decided to imprint it on his skin. The tattoo on his right arm is Celtic eternity or infinity knots. The knots have no beginning and no ending, and symbolize the idea of immortality and continuous existence.
Another tattoo is a Phoenix on his right shoulder. Steve says he likes the story of the Phoenix burning and dying, but always coming back from the ashes. “It is pretty much how it was when I was in the army, so the story goes well with the fact that I am still alive,” he said.
One more symbol of immortality Steven has is an image of the Angel of Death, as he calls it, on his right pectoral. The image of the Angel with the lantern is accompanied by the words “Though death shall seek me – it shall not find me.”
The most impressive tattoo, about whose existence a lot of people don’t even know, is the giant wings on Steven’s back. I gasped in admiration when he showed it to me for the first time. It is his most recent one. Steven did it during his winter vacation in Nepal, which he calls “a spiritual traveling.”
He says it is by far, the most painful tattoo he has had and it is also the one that took the longest. It took 15 hours to complete. “The wings or the angel wings, if you prefer, are a symbol of a guarding angel around me, whose existence I can’t prove anyway, but who helped me to survive a lot of things in my life,” he said.
His two other tattoos are two crosses – one on the left pectoral and the other on the back. They don’t have a connection to eternity, but still have a symbolic meaning. Steven says he had them done at approximately the same time, about eight years ago.
Back then, he was more religious, so the crosses represented the idea of carrying a burden on the heart and on the back. The cross on the back is perfectly integrated into the overall picture with the wings, which is why it is difficult to notice that it is actually a separate tattoo.
Looking at all the images on Steven’s body, I asked him if he agrees that it is impossible to get just one tattoo.
“Do I believe that tattoos are addictive? I guess the addictive part is that it is a piece of art you get to carry with you all your life,” he said. “It symbolizes where you were at that point in life, and it is a historical record of what you were doing at that time.”