grammar

My But Tattoo

By: Kati

Photo by:  Alizé Jireh

Photo by: Alizé Jireh

I have a but tattoo.

I show it off all the time. Almost everyone I know has seen it. I’ve shown my friends, my parents, my grandma. Even coworkers.

So I’ve been leading you on. I don’t have a tattoo on my butt. Yet. I have a tattoo just below the elbow on the inside of my left arm that reads: , but…

The forearm is actually very hard to photograph.

The forearm is actually very hard to photograph.

This tiny tat is partly a nod to grammar (the 6th yama, in my opinion), but it’s mostly a reminder to me. It faces me so I can read it whenever I need a “but,” whenever I need to reroute my thinking.

For weeks, I fruitlessly explained to my friends why I wanted this tattoo. No one quiiiiiite understood, which was fine by me. When I went in to get a different tattoo, I asked my artist if she could also tattoo “, but…” on my arm at the same time, and I had no intention of giving her an explanation. She looked at the single word I’d typed and printed out, and almost reverently spoke the words I’d been saying to my friends for weeks: “‘But’ changes everything.”

I’ve written journal entries and essays about the word “but.” I’ve tried to convince people of the importance of this tiny little conjunction and the comma that precedes it. With all the rich, punchy, flowy words in the English language, it may sound ridiculous that my absolute favorite one is “but,” but it is.

I didn’t really grasp what I was going for with my “but” until I was researching for our “Niyamas - Part 1” episode this week.

“But” is santosha (contentment), the second niyama. “But” is how we find contentment in the everyday and in the extraordinary circumstances. It’s how we keep our head above water when we have a day of shit luck or when terrible things happen in the world.

From external: I didn’t get the promotion, but I’m living comfortably on the money I make now.

To internal: I lost a family member, but that loss has brought the rest of my family together.

To global: An earthquake destroyed my town, but we have come together to rebuild.

And if you’re still at a loss, here’s a universal option to use for any situation: BUT I’m still alive. I’m still here.

We have the power to look at any dismal circumstance and say, “but…” This helps us find parts of the situation that we can be content with, and I promise you, contentedness can be had in any situation. If it’s something we can’t change, we have only two choices: Be content or be miserable. If it’s something we can change, then that’s wonderful; exert effort to do your duty, and you can be content that you are doing what needs to be done.

And if you’re sorely disappointed that this post has nothing to do with actual butts, I give you THIS.