These hands. Each scar, each tattoo... tells a story.

 photo: Kyle Topping

photo: Kyle Topping

These hands. Each scar, each tattoo... tells a story. From the initial of my former wife to the lyrics "Consoler of the Lonely" representing the hardships of tour life. All the way to the burn from the night my best friend was murdered (RIP Giao). These hands are resilient. They are determined. They do not give up. Ever.

I’ve dug ditches for money and worked on assembly lines. I have manned the window at a drive thru and spent, what seemed like endless months, telemarketing. I have slept in gutters, and on beaches. Ate out of garbage cans, and at soup kitchens. My hands are a reminder. They remind me to take things in stride. They remind me to keep things in perspective.  They remind me not to resent the bad times, because they are what make the good times great. And while circumstances have changed drastically for me in the years in between, I never forget. I look down and find peace in the chaos of my past, armed to approach my future.

The quarter-sized scar on my left hand; burned into eternity on the same night my best friend was killed. A constant reminder. I love him and miss him every single day. Even now, his death pushes me to work hard and make something of my life. It’s the best way I know how to honor his memory; it’s how I carry him with me.

Then there are the other, not so obvious correlations. There’s no physical mark but they remain indelible in my mind. Thoughts of sleeping under a stairwell in San Diego when I was 19, and the feeling of relief  having found a place I could relax away from threat, or the stares, to just lie down and take a breath. The feeling that left me long ago, but still resides in me everyday. The epitome of irony, found in the middle of all opposites.

It’s funny, usually when I write, a certain feeling inspires me to put pen to paper. After I finish, I search out a photo that I feel represents my words or captures the feelings the words inspire. But with this one, it was the exact opposite. A friend of mine, Kyle Topping, took this photo of my hands among a thousand others, and when I saw it - these hands - it kind of took my breath away. With this single image it was as though a series of snapshots fluttered through my mind. Some of them obvious, such as the initial of my ex-wife. The memory of the night I got the tattoo and then ‘poof’ as I moved on.

I see these hands, and think about my life today and how good it is…and how different it is. They encapsulate my story. It’s almost as if they are speaking to me, telling me they knew all along that we’d end up here together. That the past is just a memory and it’s time to look down the road ahead. And what a wonderful road it is…

I have opportunity like I’ve never had before, new doors that lead to possibilities I could never have imagined. I think about next week and next month and I can hardly wait. I wonder where I’ll be next year, knowing already, that it will be great. After building an entire life by “winging it,” I feel like I’ve finally begun to find my rhythm, and that is amazing.

The scars, tattoos, and stories these hands carry are so symbolic, so important to me. If we ever cross paths, feel free to take a moment and ask me about them. I would love to share their stories with you. They are the stories of my life. They’re the testament to who I was - who I am - and who I’m working to be.

I am your humble servant, always. – Daniel Dart