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“Stars are simply light.  We insist on forming constellations.”

I came across this quote a few days ago and it made me think of when I first learned about constellations.  I always wondered how people came to see some of those random shapes in stars, such as bears or hunters.  As much as I loved looking at the constellations, sometimes I just couldn’t understand them.  Today I saw the word pareidolia (or noticed it—I’ve probably seen it around somewhere) for the first time.  Curious, I looked it up: Pareidolia is “the perception of random stimulus as significant,” such as seeing images in clouds or seeing Jesus on a piece of toast.  Both the quote and the definition of this word seem to have a somewhat negative connotation:  almost of foolishness or naïveté.  It is as if it says people try to see things that don’t exist, “insisting” that they’re there.  It’s the “perception” that things are significant, not that they actually are.  Looking at both the quote and the definition again, though, I chose to see it in a more positive light.

In my mind, it is meaning and belief that leads to motivation, which drives people to do great things.  People with a ‘why bother?’ attitude rarely go out there and do amazing things or make significant advances.  What I am wondering is how anything can help a person or lead to happiness and satisfaction if the person does not see the meaning in it.  Sure, every person’s meaning is different.  People perceive different things and find different meanings in the objects, words, and sounds that surround them.  For example, I’m not sure I will ever see or understand the whole “finding Jesus on toast” concept.  The meaning of my cousin’s dandelion tattoo will be forever lost on me.  My brother’s tiny car doesn’t have quite the significance for me as it does for him.  I respect their meanings and significance, but it is my own understandings that make me who I am.  It is the fact that we can find meanings and perceive significance that makes us unique as individuals and makes the world an interesting place.

So why am I talking about this?  Well, recently I’ve been told that I care too much about some things: my job, making silly picture videos, capture the flag, etc.  In response, I say, of course I do! What kind of life am I living if I am doing things I don’t really care about?  I don’t plan on living in wait for something better to come along.  If I’m doing something, I will give it my all.  Don’t get me wrong—I miss France, like CRAZY, and I am psyched for Mozambique—but I don’t plan on spending my summer daydreaming of the past year or waiting for the fall.  I generally see significance in what I do on a day-to-day basis, and that motivates me to do my best.  Motivation brings satisfaction, and that is why I am usually a happy person.

I get a lot of questions about my tattoo when people first see it.  For those of you who don’t know—I have a tattoo, btdubs.  “What is it?  A spiral?  A snail?” “Did you get it for a reason, or just because?” “Is it because they eat snails in France and you like France?” Well, no, it’s actually a nautilus shell, it does have a meaning, and I could probably think of a better symbol for France than a snail (bien que je t’aime, Bourgogne!).  The meaning of my tattoo revolves around a promise I made to myself a few years ago: that I would always work hard to become a better and more open-minded, worldly person.  The nautilus builds its shell outwards, creating a bigger chamber to move into before moving onto the next, always growing.  For me, it symbolizes building on your past experiences and mistakes to become a bigger and better person.  Finding meaning in small things in life and in my past experiences is a big part of this growth, and I search for significance and motivation to continue to grow and experience.  I rarely do things ‘just because,’ and try to live in the moment, and I encourage anyone reading this to try to find those meanings in everyday life, to find what makes life interesting.  Another quote I love: “The meaning of life is to give life a meaning.” So who’s with me in making this an awesome summer?

Image

My Tattoo after my family colored it in with highlighter…

French word of the day: les étoiles: the stars.  Aim high, people!

Portuguese word of the day: olá/oi: hello/hi.  We’ll start off with something simple 🙂

TED Talk of the day, for those who need a pep talk (watch it, it’s only 3.5 min!): http://www.ted.com/talks/kid_president_i_think_we_all_need_a_pep_talk.html

What is the meaning of life for you?

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