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The Meaning Behind Meaning

In the today's "information age", meaning is ever sought-after.

My search atop Camelback Mountain for “meaning”

“Physical concepts are free creations of the human mind, and are not, however it may seem, uniquely determined by the external world.” — Albert Einstein

We do it with almost every instance. Things take place in life and with every happening, meaning is soon to arrive.

A text message hits our phone and a story is formed surrounding what’s really beneath the message. A friend makes a comment about our appearance and all of sudden, we’re questioning our entire existence. Our boss reaches out about a meeting with us and our stomachs plummet, thinking about all the possibilities of what the gesture could be in reference to.

This was an area I struggled with for far too long. I’d find my inner emotions knocking me the hell out of my day’s flow. My quest to determine the meaning behind everything that wasn’t aligned with my standard day-to-day happenings became part of my standard day-to-day happenings. It was suffocating. I spent so much time trying to figure out what things meant and radically less time actually experiencing what was taking place in the present. In actuality, I had no idea how to just let life unfold for me.

With the growing presence of social media and digital communication over the past decade, the search for meaning is everywhere. We look for it in every like, share, comment and follow. In a constant deliberation to define things, it’s easy to forget where it all inherently begins.

With all the distractions available to get consumed with today, it’s no wonder that many of us are starving for meaning. At our core, we as human beings all want the same things. We want our life to matter. We want to be significant. We want our life to mean something.

Every day that passes by without noticeable progress is another notch in the proverbial belt of urgency where the stress levels get turned up a degree and our patience continues to deplete. It becomes a race against the clock to accomplish all that we can before the final bell rings and we’re forced to look back on all that we’ve done and stood for. What will it all mean?

One of my biggest fears has always been dying prior to “maximizing my full potential”. Within this fear of mine, “potential” obviously represents that in which produces meaning, significance, and accomplishment. Even accomplishment in itself is just a way to produce meaning. Within this realm of existence, it felt like I was going through life within a child’s board game. It was clearly defined, limited, and constructed as a much smaller means of experiencing human emotions.

And eventually, after so many rounds, the child will become tired of it.

What was outside of the game however, was real life. Beautiful, wonderful, REAL life that is full of the things in which I had always been after. The best part of it is, there are no limits. The best things in life cannot be measured. They can only be defined. And he who defines them is he who experiences them. Everyone gets their own canvas.

“It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure.” — Einstein

I Call It How I See It

Here, I arrived at my first stop along my journey of understanding. How exactly should I be making sense of defining everything that happens in life? In my experience, affirmations did not work. If I’m feeling bad, I can’t simply declare that I’m feeling good and expect my mood to change. Or could I? At this level, I could only call it how I saw it. My perceptions were, after all, my reality so I knew that how I saw things was all that was real in my life.

However, this was only dealing with what I saw and knew. This way of thinking didn’t account for what I didn’t know or didn’t understand. Facts and historical agreements were deserving of consideration. It was at this point where I realized that I was being selfish and not taking into account others’ views. Moreover, I wasn’t acknowledging certain views that we as humanity had agreed upon over the course of thousands of years, continually fine-tuning as we journeyed throughout time together.

From there, distinguishing things for what they were seemed like the most fundamental level of understanding I could possibly conjure.

I Call It How It Is

Given the peppering of Einstein quotes within this blog post, it’s becoming clear I leveraged many of his teachings to develop a further understanding of my reality. His work became a guidance system for me as a very matter-of-fact, deliberate way of looking at life. Einstein mentions that geniuses are merely a person that can dicepher what is for what it is.

A thought is just a thought. A feeling is just a feeling. Nothing more. Nothing less. Furthermore, how we shape and color our own realities is entirely dependent on discernment. We either understand and distinguish the story or concept we are engaging ourselves in or we become buried inside of the story as a character. Much like yourself while reading this, I began to experience a bit of a head trip while immersing myself within this area of philosophy and physics.

However, there was still one step further to be taken.

“Nothing changes if nothing changes.” — Courtney C. Stevens

It’s Nothing Until I Call It

At the deepest level I could ever fathom, I understand that life is nothing. Life will remain nothing until I call it something. It’s there. I’m there. But nothing changes until the nothing turns in something.

We turn it into something through our language. We call nothing something and it then becomes something. Like a wide receiver coming down with the football near the sideline, it’s nothing until the referee calls it something. The fans and players may shout out in anticipation about what they see, what it is, or how it should be called. But until it’s called, it’s nothing. It has no meaning. It doesn’t represent anything yet.

With my belief in a higher power, I believe one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received is my ability to create. This isn’t just true to me; it’s true for all humans. Whatever you feel you’ve been put on this planet to do, you had to create that belief before anything else. You’re a creator. So am I. And within that level of understanding and being, magic happens.

To some degree, this is a scary way to think. Some may feel it puts too much power in the hands of the individual. After all, with so many choices of what to create, the stress of making the right decision may appear overwhelming. Conversely, however, you may find that deciding what it is you want in your life provides a far greater likelihood that what you’re looking for actually shows up.

Ever see a commercial for a car you decide you want and start seeing it everywhere? This is a psychological principle known as The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. According to PS Mag, this is caused by two processes. “The first, selective attention, kicks in when you’re struck by a new word, thing, or idea; after that, you unconsciously keep an eye out for it, and as a result find it surprisingly often. The second process, confirmation bias, reassures you that each sighting is further proof of your impression that the thing has gained overnight omnipresence.”

Sometimes you even start calling cars that look like the car you want and call it the car you want, even though it’s actually not. It doesn’t matter however because in the end, you’re the creator.

The beautiful thing about this discovery is we get to determine how much of the immeasurable feelings we experience in life. Once we are content within ourselves, we can then start playing at higher levels. As we level up, we experience more. It truly becomes relative to abundance instead of scarcity.

Not that I have a frame of reference for what he went through, but if Nelson Mandela can find peace and happiness in prison, I feel pretty good about our chances to create lasting meaning. To quote Mr. Mandela, “Your playing small does not serve the world. Who are you to not be great?”

“The meaning of life is a life lived for others.” — Einstein

As a creator, you choose what level to play at. Meaning can absolutely be identified at the level of the individual. It can also be identified at the level of relationship, of organization, of community, or (if you’re bold) the world. You decide. The spectrum is merely a measurement. It doesn’t have to mean anything unless you want it to.

Since we’re here however, why not be bold?

Originally published at medium.com

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