To the normal reader, a grouping of three angle brackets (greater-than signs) wouldn’t mean a thing. But to different communities they mean the world. To the Down Syndrome community, these brackets and variations of them represent trisomy 21 and the three extra copies of chromosomes. It started when a group of moms decided to get matching tattoos, inspired by a designer and a book, “The Lucky Few.” It’s become known as “The Lucky Few” tattoo to raise awareness and support for the Down syndrome community.
To the software/programming community, angle brackets are used in many different aspects. From the syntax of the language itself, to interactive shells where a command line might start with ‘>>>’. In python, the three angle brackets indicates a Python shell in a console window. This is where programmers do a lot of work learning, exploring, and creating/troubleshooting software. It can also be a sandbox of sorts, where excitement and intrigue flow through your body as you harness the power of computers at your fingertips. Imagine a blank canvas to an artist.
Amazingly, these two representations have had a profound impact on my life in just the last couple of years. A few summers ago I started researching and teaching myself how to program. I fumbled over a bunch of languages and topics over the years until eventually learning enough to start my own tiny business. Just two short years later, we had our first child that blessed us and the world with her Down Syndrome diagnosis. As I am getting older and older, I am becoming more convinced that there are no coincidences in life and that everything happens for a reason. These two events coming together in symbolism solidified that belief.
To that end and in honor of our daughter and the amazing Down syndrome community, my wife and I got matching “Lucky Few” tattoos. The permanency now is a bit scary and I wonder when our curious little one will ask if the arrows mean anything? How will I respond? That it’s just an interesting logo I came across? Or that it represents her Down Syndrome? Will she even be aware of her own diagnosis when she grows older? Ah, let’s save that for a different post 😉