“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small, unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.”
Those are the first lines from my all-time favorite book, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams. It tells the story of Arthur Dent, an ordinary Englishman who inadvertently becomes the only human left in the universe. He travels the galaxy with an alien doing research for an electronic book called the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom in the universe” with the famous words “DON’T PANIC” inscribed in large, friendly letters on its cover.”
The story relies heavily on perspective and the idea that even our greatest vices are completely trivial in the broad scheme of things. In one chapter, a super computer called Deep Thought comes up with the number 42 – the answer to “life, the universe, and everything.” There are hundreds of fan-made theories as to why Adams chose 42, but he died without telling anyone what it meant. I think Adams selection of 42 was a completely random decision, which he made to prove that point of his book - that people are so desperate for answers that they will apply meaning to even the most insignificant of things. “42” really tells us that life is what you make it. There isn’t anything remarkably right or horribly wrong about what you’re doing or how you see the world, so long as it works for you.
The tattoo faces me, so anytime I feel stressed, scared, nervous, hopeless, trapped, etc. I look down at my foot and remember that the entire universe is “a harmless enigma, made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as thought it had an underlying truth.” That my reality is merely a fiction designed to account for the discrepancy between my immediate physical sensations and my state of mind. And that I probably should’ve brought a towel.
Done by Scott Carlton at Stiehl’s Body Modification, Ithaca, NY