Thursday, February 20, 2014

Life is full of odds... it seems fitting that the largest odds of them all belong to life itself.

I'm pretty sure my brain would explode if I tried to wrap it around this idea for too long, but have you ever thought about how incredible it is that you exist as an individual being?  I mean really thought about it?  Seriously!  Let's talk through this from the beginning...

(fyi, as the basis for example here, I shall be using a newly minted adult, whose existence is by way of a "traditional relationship")

First, the obvious.  Mom and Dad need to have a meetcute!  I think we can all agree that the baby train can't exactly leave the station without a conductor and an engineer, amirite?  Alright so Mom and Dad meet, and its cute, and they're cute, and everything is puppies and kittens at this point, for sure.  After the initial point of attraction, they have to talk long enough to gauge an interest level, and act on it.  Check.  Keep it going well enough for a second date?  Sure, check.  Actually develop a substantial relationship?  Okay yeah, I'm still with you here.  Stay together long enough to have kids?  50/50 shot if you've gotten this far.

Are you with me?

What I'm trying to say here is, by the time Mom and Dad meet each other, out of every member of the opposite sex of reproductive age, and go through the traditional relationship timeline, the odds of Johnny Grownup over here even being alive are 1 in 40 million.  Really, all of the above absolutely has to happen for you to even get your 1 in 40 million shot, no matter how the relationship timeline actually goes.

Still, that doesn't seem all that crazy.... but we haven't even gotten to the fun part yet.

Biology 101: Women have a lot of eggs, any one of which could be next in line for the monthly window of opportunity.  Not only that, but men have wayyyyy more sperm than women have eggs, and millions of those bad boys are set free on a daily basis.

Once you've made it to the holy grail of Mom and Dad actually conceiving, then you have to contend with your exact egg meeting with your exact sperm.  Virtually anything could have derailed the sequence of events leading up to your conception, and that's it, game over, thanks for playing.  A different month?  Day?  Hell, even hour!  One change in the egg or the sperm that are in this party of two, and your 'brother' or 'sister' would be sitting here reading this instead of you.

If ALL of this happens - if the planets align, the mountains move, and the angels sing - then you've beaten the odds.  What are those odds by now anyway, you ask?  1 in 400,000,000,000,000,000.  Yes, that's quadrillion by the way.  One in four hundred freaking quadrillion chances of being alive.  This isn't even taking conception or miscarriage rates into consideration, which are low and high, respectively.  Add to all of it that this exact process had to happen with each generation of your family that came before you, on both sides?  We're looking at a number with an insane exponent that basically says, all things considered, the chances of you existing are pretty much zero.  zilch.  nada.  nyet.  none.  and yet here you are, reading a blog post that confirms for you that you really are a unique snowflake.

Take a few minutes to think about that, to really absorb it.  Crazy, huh?  I've spent the last couple of years really soaking it all in, and it has made a definite impact on my outlook toward life.  I don't spend much time thinking about what the meaning, or purpose of life is, but I do spend a fair amount of time thinking about the fact that everyone only has one go at it.  We may never know why we exist, but we do, so its only in our best interests to make the best of it, and do what it takes to be a happy individual.  I hear people ask all of the time, "well what is this elusive Secret to Happiness?" and I think I've finally come to a pretty good answer for that.  Ready?

The Secret is to stop focusing so much on what The Secret is!  Instead, just remember how truly remarkable it is that this awesome zero in a lifetime chance was given to you (you lucky SOB!).  Of course the ride isn't always fun, and sometimes it's downright terrible, but when it's bad, it goes on.... and when its good?  When its good, it is grand.
Take it as it comes; enjoy it for what it is.  Don't dwell on the past, and don't devote too much time/energy/stress or what-have-you to the future.  Always take pleasure in the small things, and try to find something to laugh at every day.  Done!

Its been working for me so far :)

PS, I've been pretty fascinated with the fact that I'm alive basically since I could piece together the circumstances that led my particular genetic combination, so I'll always remember how excited I was to find a graphic that actually laid it out for me in a concrete way.  Even if the methodology is flawed, and the odds aren't QUITE one in four hundred quadrillion - your chances are still pretty much nil, and at least it is something tangible to see.  Check it out if you want!

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