I found some wonderful quotes on Monday, all concerning the Self. They talked about what makes you You, and the importance of being true to the person you are. I pasted them all neatly into a Word Document and brimmed with inspiration the whole day. But I couldn’t think of how to fit the quotes I’d found into a blog post. I couldn’t think of - excuse the slightly clinical term – an ‘angle’.
This morning on the train to work, I was reading a book called ‘Risk’ by Dan Gardner. It’s all about the psychology of fear, and the development of the brain, and why we perceive things the way we do. The chapter I was reading went right back to the basics of evolution, and the author made some comment about the probability of human life existing at all. In short, the probability of our existence is infinitesimal. It’s almost laughable. But we exist despite that.
Sometimes you know things in a sort of abstract way – you know they’re true but they haven’t socked you in the face with their sheer force. This morning I felt like I’d been well and truly socked. I got goosebumps. I thought to myself with something like wonder, We ARE miracles.
And if the existence of the human race in itself is a miracle, the existence of you as an individual is even more so.
For you to exist as YOU is beyond miraculous. A whole host of events had to be exactly right, both in the grand scheme of things and at the microscopic level.
First of all, everything had to happen exactly the way it has. The Universe had to happen. Conditions on Earth had to be exactly as they are to be able to sustain life. Millions of years of evolution had to happen so that humans existed at all.
And then history had to unfold, precisely as it did. Here’s a weird thought: Hitler had to be defeated so that you could live.
Think about it. If World War II had had a different outcome, the structure of the world would be radically altered today. Your parents probably wouldn’t have met, they might not even live in the same country or speak the same language. It’s such a complicated chain – things had to happen exactly as you did so that your great great great grandparents could meet and produce your great great grandparents, so that they could go on and produce your great grandparents so that they could in turn produce your grandparents who could produce your parents who could subsequently produce you. And that’s a chain that goes right the way back to the first humans. If even one link in that chain was broken…you would not exist.
And even then, after all that going your way, you might not have existed. Your parents had to meet, for one. And of all the people in all the world, what are the chances of those two particular people finding each other? And even if the time and the location were right for them to meet, it doesn’t mean that the circumstances were. What if your mother had been running late, for instance, and had never met that handsome fellow at the bar? What if your father missed the bus and was late for work, and so never saw that pretty young girl waiting in reception? What if they did meet but a chance remark made your mother think that your father was a stuck up fool and politely extricate herself from the situation? What if your father was in a bit of a grump that night because his football team had just lost, and so didn’t acknowledge the girl smiling at him from across the room? What if a different girl had caught his eye the night, the hour, the minute before?
And even if their first meeting went beautifully, and they liked each other enough to carry on a relationship, maybe get married etc - they still had to have sex at the exact moment in time they did to have created You.
(Even more mind-boggling: your parents’ parents had to have met and married and conceived at the exact time they did, too, to produce the exact people they did so that you could exist. Sort of like Cosmic Russian Dolls, isn’t it?)
Biologically speaking, you exist as You because one particular sperm out of about XXX other sperm met one specific egg, and fertilised it. If another little swimmer had been a fraction of a second quicker, or yours a little slower, You as you are now would not exist. Your parents would still have a child, but that child wouldn’t be You, wouldn’t have that one-off package of singular and unique genes and chromosomes that make you You. This Other Child would not only look different, they’d have an entirely different personality. ‘You’ might have been a he instead of a she (or vice versa). ‘You’ might be short instead of tall, excellent at Science instead of English. ‘You’ might have had freckles, been deaf, a twin or a triplet. ‘You’ might have had a genetic condition which meant you died young, or weren’t born at all.
The fact that You exist – you, with all your talents and opinions and abilities and hopes, your perceived imperfections and flaws, your likes and dislikes - is an honest-to-goodness MIRACLE. Remember that when you don’t feel special. When you feel inferior or unworthy, hopeless, unpretty, undeserving. YOU ARE A MIRACLE. The fact that I am alive to write these words and you are alive to read them IS A MIRACLE.
There are millions and millions and millions of things that say You shouldn’t exist, a trillion coincidences and synchronicities and circumstances that needed to happen so that you could, stretching all the way back to the beginning of time. The odds of you existing are off-the-scale impossible.
And yet here you are. And here am I.