Guest Post: Be The Comma



by Paul Christopher

Though, I am sure there are exceptions to this thought, it seems as though every punctuation mark forces a thought, an idea, or statement to come to a halt.

First there is the granddaddy of punctuation: The period. While texting and emailing has given it a strange dulling effect, traditionally, the period makes a firm statement that is both emphatic and certain. There is a level of pride associated with the period, and a degree of seriousness for it often serves as the closing argument.

Period. The end.

Sure, we can use it as a pause, such as when we space one word out with all individual periods.


But really, the letters are just spaced out and there are periods in between each letter

Maybe, just maybe, I am reading too much into it.

Either way, you see my point…

Ah, but right there, I just used three periods.

You see my point.

I am telling you do.

You see my point…

There is more to come.

Then, of course, there is the period’s enthusiastic New York cousin: The exclamation point. Straight-forward. Authentic. Honest in its intention. It says what it means, creating a new sound that rings in your ears. A sudden burst (or outburst) of energy. Possibly even a total change of mood.

A scream, a jump, a sense of fear or anger. It could express excitement, pride or joy. Fear. There are multiple occasions when you may find it more appropriate to use an exclamation point, most especially if you are looking to stir up these emotions in your audience.

I love you!

I hate you!

I need you!

I don’t need you!

I want you!

Get out!


Please Stay!

The most vulnerable is the question mark. Always looking down retrospectively and a little disconnected with itself, the question mark hangs with a sense of concern, anxiety, and a terrible fear of rejection. There are times when it can be a little passive-aggressive, but whether rhetorical or authentic, question is a question, period! The end.

Alas, we meet the comma. What is the significance of the comma? It’s the queen on the chess board, the thoughtful and wise elder, the philosopher who tries to see both sides of thought and bring them together. The one who savors sweet anticipation.

Let us consider the ways to make use of a comma. A comma will indicate when you should change the style of your reading, whether or not one needs to pause. It serves to highlight, with a strengthened tone of voice, a certain word, phrase, place, thing, or person; a noun that is “proper.

Commas offer us the flexibility to run on a bit in our sentences. It helps us to organize the structure of our sentences, and to combine our thoughts. Thus, it allows us to bring thoughts together allowing us a greater description of someone or something through its highly appropriate placement. A comma gives you the power to create or recreate. You could be set to end a thought, to make a final statement, but the comma comes in and gives you more time and more control. This period with the little hook allows you to hook attention…this is just the beginning!

The most crucial part of the sentence tends to lay before after and or in between (two) commas.

I thought about this when I created the following design for my tattoo.

def I nE ,


def I nE ,

def I nE ,

There is a comma spaced slightly after the last letter of the word ‘E” which looks capitalized.Yet, in measurement of size of letter, the I still is a larger font. The I is also made up of a few components. On the bottom (or left) wall of the I shows 03.25 directly across from this falls 06.28 and there is a stem connecting the two walls made from the word love, which is written in script. A star resembling an asterisk hangs off the tip of the letter ‘e’ in love.

I designed my tattoo to maintain a great deal of depth and dimension throughout the full image, which comes together to tell short story. I see it as a summary of all of the experiences, memories, hopes, wishes and desires of my life. There is a reason the I stands out, and it is not because I feel the word or the world revolves around me. I drew it to be the most significant to all of the letters and memories that make up the word.

Who I AM.

Who am I?

I am who?

I AM, who?

I stands for ME.

An individual.

The individual who chooses what defines me.

I choose to love.

I define love.

The I serves as reminder to stay centered, to nurture myself in order to nurture the love I give. It reminds me to protect myself, to include myself in the whole. There is no statement without I. I must always be there to define anything, most especially love.

In my design, love is being protected. There is a period on both sides. The love I maintain for myself-whether it is old love, new love, redefined or renewed love, it cannot break through the barriers to mix with the love that I have for myself. This, of course is much different from being in love with oneself, which I can safely say that I am not.

I am love. Period.

Whether or not I am loved, or in love…

Finally, there is the star which is really Asterisk.

An asterisk.

A Risk.


Is a risk.

To hurt and be hurt is human, but there is no love behind walls. No love without chance. With love given, one grows and blossoms. One is transformed. Love with embrace. Love with trust. Love with abandon. Love fearlessly.


Love, but…

Love with perspective.

Love with intent.

Whether the love in your past has come to painful-final-stops or been confusing run-on sentences that start at one place and end somewhere else, you must pick up a fresh piece of paper and color it with the intent of telling a brand new story. You must use your power to interpret love, to spell it out, to define it. Then redefine it. Love evolves. Give yourself the privilege to always be full of love. Redefine the love expelled, when necessary, but never deprive yourself…

Be the comma,

in love,


Paul Christopher is an artist and writer embracing life in New York City. @PaulChristoph3r

Note: I am honored to publish Paul’s first piece. A brilliant artist and dear friend, I find his outlook refreshing and love to sit and listen to his theories, which I always find thought-provoking and comforting. Please share your thoughts about his piece in the comment section below.

(Photos Courtesy of You by Lou)