A few moments ago I read the most inspiring thing I have encountered in a great while, and I needed to share it with someone instantly. I encountered it in a rather unlikely place: A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (2003). In the introduction to the book, actually in the second paragraph, Bryson lays out the unlikely nature of life:
To begin with, for you to be here now trillions of drifting atoms had somehow to assemble in an intricate and intriguingly obliging manner to create you. It’s an arrangement so specialized and particular that it has never been tried before and will only exist this once. For the next many years (we hope) these tiny particles will uncomplainingly engage in all the billions of deft, cooperative efforts necessary to keep you intact and let you experience the supremely agreeable but generally underappreciated state known as existence.
He goes on to explain just how unlikely the whole process of evolution has been that led to humanity’s existence and, more specifically, how one individual (the reader) came to be at all.
It isn’t something we tend to think about. Well, I’m sure that some people do, but for most people, I feel that we take our lives for granted. Even when we are conscious of the fact that our life is somewhat miraculous, we sort of stop at the notion that it’s amazing that we exist in our current state versus being someone else entirely.
It’s humbling really. My atoms have no idea that they’re keeping me alive and have formed in such a way to make me what I am. They don’t know or care that I wish they had formed a figure with a slightly bigger chest or a bit more height. Yet despite their complete lack of interest in what I think about them, my atoms will work tirelessly to keep me this way. Until they get bored and decide to go form something else, anyway.
I haven’t made it past the introduction of the book, yet. I’m already thrilled with it, though. Because as Bryson points out in the introduction, a lot of what makes it so amazing that I am sitting here typing this now, is the fact that it’s so cosmically unlikely that all of the factors in the universe aligned to make it possible.
Just some things to ponder.