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Musical Tunes, Tattoos, Security of Literary Notions and the Contemplation of 'Why'  


So I ask her, Doc said, “Why? What’s the deal?”

She was a young girl maybe not yet even sixteen. She gave her name as ‘Iron-Butterfly’. He later learned her given name was really Brittany… although the name Iron-Butterfly appropriately fit her appearance.

Doc Tiller told me this little story he had gathered while off on some annual neurologist conference- about this young girl he chatted with in the Chicago airport.

Doc is very easy to talk to no matter who you are. He becomes smarter through the years because he makes the most of any opportunity to learn something new.

He told me the theme of the exchange with the young lady was ‘change’; about how people devise methods to counter the insecurity of change; often creating artificial effects that give them security they naturally require, while feeding the sense of adventures for which they lust. It is the idea of security vs. freedom in the midst of an unstable world’s environment.

His story made me think about change.

Why do things change?

 Springtime seems a natural time to ponder such things; to stir such simple questions even though there are probably only incomplete, complex answers that bother to come forth- and even then reluctantly.

I guess that is the irony of humans living in the midst of nature. Humans constantly find themselves in the middle of a dodge-ball game, between security and risks fueled by curiosity- constantly running both away and toward the two opposite ideas-dodging to keep from getting hit by harm, or worse, un-fulfillment.

 There seems to be an innate need for humans to seek security, while once we gain it we become content and then thirst to seek a newer adventure. It is a sport we constantly pursue; always eyeing unknown horizons in the midst of surrounding ourselves with the security of things that we pray never change.

We all have our security blankets, our pets, our books, our music, our loves-they never change, or do they?

Doc told me that the young girl’s defenses fell immediately when he asked her ‘why’. I guess he made her comfortable telling him her darkest secrets.

He described well her tough exterior: Her in-your-face expression, a body violated by too many tattoos, and her overall macabre appearance of dark makeup and clothes. The simple question melted her hardness and all that was left was the whimsy of a small child’s eyes who had probably overcome too many obstacles for one so young. The question melted her defiance built up by understandings long being denied.

“I needed to have something permanent in a life of chaos. I wanted security in the midst of a voided family life and a world empty of security-too many questions not enough answers. So, I created a type of security- even though it was a fabricated one. But hey, isn’t most security only some kind of illusion?”

Doc’s story triggered a notion that I often have to be reminded of: that people, any age, are often more clever than their appearance suggests; rarely is what you see on the outside of a person an honest indication of what’s going on inside. I think it is called prejudice, but in its real, natural form. I’m sure I am the only one who has ever done it!

“When I see my tattoos,” she continued, “it is a way I have redefined myself in a life that usually defies definition. I invented a kind of permanence where there was none. I may get old, my hair turn gray, even fall out, but my skin will have the permanence of these tattoos of who I am. Other generations have the solidity of musical tunes, historical events, books they read, or fond memories of growing up, I have my tattoos. Before I die I can look over at this tattoo of ‘Roses in Love’ and know it is me. I don’t have to look in a mirror; I just look down at my arm and see me.”

Sometimes it is easy to forget how perceptive and thoughtful young folks can be- I guess we were too, weren’t we?


Change: that illusive truth! I recently wrote a song…I don’t know why I wrote it… it’s just called ‘WHY?’


Why in time

Do things go by

Bluebirds hatch

And away they fly

Puppy dogs

Grow old in time

Cornfields sprout

Then say goodbye…


…Springtime leaves
Wither away and die
Mistakes give you

A second try…



It seems folks who weather change best are those who know what stuff to say ‘goodbye’ to and when to say ‘hello’. Most often we don’t get to choose the stuff we keep in our personal backpacks or those ‘goodbye’ things left upon the path along the way. Some though, we do get to choose; that favorite book, TV show, the music on our I-Pod, family and friends which cushion the confusions of the journey. For Iron-Butterfly it was her tattoos.

She had a childhood without fairy tales, celebrations, rites of passage or the nurturing of parents secure in their beliefs, or even secure with themselves.

She told me why, “My parents were children trapped in adult bodies and adult responsibilities, so I had to quickly adapt to becoming an adult while still in a child’s life- to compensate.” She understood somebody had to be the parent!

I often wondered why human animals take so long to nurture into adulthood compared to most animals- heck, a calf is on its feet within hours, and running around within days. But a human takes so long until it can be on its own. Years to physically grow, emotionally mature and develop the learning’s of practical knowledge into a balance between skills and dreams in order to apply them successfully.

Brittany had her answers… and maybe it's as good a start as any.