Congratulations on Being Here!
Congratulations on being here! Not just here, reading this blog, at this website, but here, alive. Rational Hedonism is about enjoying life, being truly happy, and "savoring" wonderful moments. You are a unique individual and while researching just what are the odds of you being here, the following article was discovered, and says it extremely well, so enjoy, and as the Monty Python Galaxy song goes:
"So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth,"
"Scientists say the dinosaurs’ demise paved the way for the rise of mammals and the eventual evolution of humans. But what if the asteroid that allegedly led to the dinosaurs’ extinction had taken just a slightly different course and missed earth? Evolution would have taken a whole new trajectory. Intelligent life still may have evolved, but maybe not in the form of humans, so certainly not any of us.
You're lucky because of the remote chances of your forbearers ever being born, still more luck in that your parents happened to meet each other (of all the potential mates), lucky because they conceived during the short, two or three-day window when the spermazoa from which you originated were alive, and lucky because the two unique cells carrying your genetic code happened to combine out of the billion possible cell combinations.
Flash back to your very beginnings – way back, when you were conceived. During the time of conception, out of about a hundred million sperm cells released, about 1 in 10, or 10 million, were capable of fertilizing an ovum, according to biologists. And 1 of about 100 of the latter were released. That means the chances of any two particular sex cells joining at that particular time were about one in a billion.
There was a frenzied struggle of millions of sperm cells vying to find a single egg cell. Of the 10 million, about a million made it into the uterus. Only a few thousand of those happened to swim to the entrance of the Fallopian tubes. A few hundred of those wandered to the right place: the immediate vicinity of the egg. Just one – the one carrying half the genetic blueprint of you – penetrated the egg.
Had any other sex cell made contact, someone genetically similar to you would have been born, but it wouldn’t have been you.
And that’s just during the short, two-day time period during which the sperm from which you originated were alive, or during the month that the egg from which you originated was released. Had your parents conceived a few days earlier or later, you wouldn’t be reading this right now. Had any of your grandparents, great-grandparents or preceding generations conceived a few days earlier or later, you likewise wouldn’t be reading this.
To take it further, start from a point 200 years before you were born. What was the probability of you coming onto the scene two centuries later?
Two-hundred years is about eight generations. That works out to 256 great (x8) grandparents. (Four grandparents, eight great grandparents, 16 great-great grandparents, etc.) Had none of those 256 been born, you wouldn’t have either. Assume very conservatively that each of them had a one-in-a-billion chance of being born; to arrive at the chances of you being here, you’d multiply a billion by a billion 256 times. So the probability is about 1 in 1,000,000,000 to the power of 256. That’s 2,304 zeros. Essentially, infinitely remote.
We all made it into a tremendously elite, exclusive club here in this tiny corner of the universe.
It’s so easy to take the things in this world for granted. But knowing that your chances of ever experiencing them were so low, savor every moment. Feast your eyes on the sky, the grass, the trees, the animals, the people. Listen to the sounds of nature. Feel the breeze on your skin. Or the warmth of the sun. Do it knowing that you were so extremely close to never experiencing any of it at all.
We’ve all heard stories of people having a close brush with death, who subsequently have a new appreciation for life and live every day with newfound vigor. As you had a close brush with never existing at all, that’s the way you should live your life as well.
Such an attitude makes the ordinary become extraordinary. Mundane, routine things of life like waking up in the morning, eating breakfast, looking out your window, or driving down your street take on a whole new meaning with the realization that it was only you among billions of potential humans who ever got to experience such things.
Viewing life in this way also could help to cope with an early loss. A person may die young, but the key thing is that he or she lived. Having the opportunity to live at all, even if it’s only for a short time, is an extraordinary phenomenon.
This mindset also helps us accept ourselves as we are: our genetically determined traits that we may not be happy about, be they related to physical appearance, mental ability, predisposition for a certain disease, or other condition. If you had a different genetic make-up – i.e. if, during conception, there was a different mix of genes and therefore different sex cells joined to form the embryo – then you wouldn’t have been you. A different person would have been born in your place, and you wouldn’t have existed. So what would you prefer? Life with all of its flaws, or no life at all?
While we all should strive to rise to the top, be it in our careers or other endeavors, not all of us will get there. But don’t get too distressed about it. You already prevailed in one of the most intensely random and intensely competitive struggles known to nature: conception. The reward: the opportunity to commingle with the other winners on this ultra-fascinating planet. And at the top of the food chain to boot.
Eyewitness to the World
As one of the fortunate few to be born into this universe, learn about and experience as much of it as you can. Read books or watch shows about the geologic wonders of our home, the earth. Get a telescope to eyewitness the vast marvels beyond our earth. Get a microscope to observe the universe of phenomena too small for the naked eye to see.
Or just perch yourself anywhere and observe the sights and sounds around you whatever they may be, marveling at this incredible place. Whether it be a natural wonder of the world or your neighborhood street, everything is extraordinary if you think about it hard enough.
And be thankful that you were born into this day and age. Apart from living more comfortably than any time in history, so much more is known about the world and universe than ever before; each of us made it into an incredibly multifaceted place about which there is an endless reservoir of information thanks to the efforts of scientists, researchers, and teachers who’ve come before us. Being lucky enough to be born into such an amazing place and not learning about and experiencing as much of it as you possibly can would be a tragedy indeed."
"Pinch Yourself. You Made the Ultimate Cut" by Patrick D. Chisholm September, 2009
The complete article quoted can be found here.
And, just for fun and a smile:
G.K. is currently the official Spokesman representing Rational Hedonism online; an Ordained Celebrant (not "celibate"!) with R.H. and conducts or advises others with Weddings, Civil Unions, Remembrance Ceremonies (both people and pets), Adoption and Naming Ceremonies; and conducts "Garden" Parties for Rational Hedonists throughout the United States.