Last Sunday, December the eighth, I went into New York by train to see a play. Sitting opposite me was a man, probably early thirties, and his hands and arms were covered in intricate swirling, almost Celtic like tattoos. My first thought was, that must have hurt like hell on the back of his hands.
Both he and his friend eventually got around to talking about his tattooed physique. They were both polite, well-spoken, and I really wasn’t eaves-dropping, but being only two feet away you couldn’t but help hear every word they were saying.
The man with the tattoos told his friend that he once was told by a woman that she’d like him better without the tattoos. “Why would you put that out there?” he asked his pal. “I mean, why put that negativity out there?”
What a great question! Negativity, it’s like a virus. Put it out there and it grows and spreads. And sometimes it can develop into a disease called spite. That one is a doozie, because spite is like a poison. Except you don’t give it to your enemy. You drink it, and then wait for your enemy to die. Does that make sense?
That negative remark gets passed from one person to another, people, being only human, start to develop opinions, opinions can be spiteful, and on and on it goes. That’s not what amazes me though, it really doesn’t.
What really amazes me is that negativity takes more energy than positivity. That off-the-cuff negative remark may require defensive mode, self-protection, and can sometimes escalate into angry words. Really a lot of energy wasted on something that’s outside of our control.
Here’s this woman telling this guy she would like him better without the tattoos, it’s his body though, he isn’t harming anyone, these tattoos aren’t like washable markers. They are permanent. He’s made a choice to keep them forever. It’s not like hanging a painting on your wall and then taking it down ten years from now. And the guy still remembers how negative her comment was.
When the train stopped, I stood up, told him I really liked the Celtic looking tattoos and asked if it hurt to get it done. “The fingers were really painful,” he said, and smiled and wished me and my family happy holidays.
I hope he remembers the positive comments as well as the negative ones. Then spite doesn’t stand a chance.