There are billions of people alive on this planet right now and, unless you’re a search engine spider or a cat who can read, you’re one of them.
Have you ever considered how unlikely that is?
Of course it probably seems inevitable to you that you exist. Aside from George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life” and a few other fictional characters, no one has ever experienced a world that they were not in.
When I look at my son I see a growing human being that I am incredibly proud of who I would give my life for without hesitation. He exists because my wife and I fooled around and one of my sperm fertilized one of her eggs. 8 months later (he came early) he was born.
Something similar happened to me several decades ago. My mother and father fooled around in February and in October** I was born.
Something similar probably happened to you and to everyone you know as well.*
Genetically, we are all unique and recently scientists confirmed that each sperm and egg are unique as well. So what is the likelihood that that particular sperm fertilized that particular egg?
It turns out we don’t have to take into account the likelihood of fooling around on Tuesday night versus Thursday morning. We can just multiply the number of possible eggs produced by a human woman (two million) by the number of sperm produced by a human male (500 billion) to get one quintillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000) possible combinations of all the sperm and and all the eggs that your parents produced.
So you are not one in a million. You are one in a quintillion.
Not unique enough for you? There’s more – a lot more.
It now seems inevitable to me that my wife and I would meet and fall in love and get married and have a baby.
But the chain of events that led to us meeting is mind bobbling. Two years before we met we lived 3,000 miles away from each other and we knew no one in common. Even before we get to one in a quintillion we are talking about extremely unlikely. Let’s be super conservative and, for the sake of argument, let’s say that the chance of any one person meeting and having a baby with a particular other is at least a million to one. Obviously some are more likely (the couple who are both from the tiny, isolated village in Canada) and some are less (the guy from Zimbabwe and the girl from China who met at a rave in France) so it’s an average.
If this is the case then you are not one in quintillion.
You are one in septillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000).
By comparison, the chance that you exist at all is one million times less likely than the chance that you will be hit by lightning three times in the next 12 months.
And here’s the truly mind blowing thing.
Every generation of ancestors is just as unlikely.
So thats one in septillion for your Mom and one in septillion for your Dad and so on and so on and so on (as the ancient shampoo commercial said).
If you add it all up (actually multiply it all up) it’s just about impossible that you exist. It is so unbelievably unlikely that it’s not hard to call it a miracle.
So if you ever think that you’re not that special or not unique please check your math.
From a practical standpoint it is very clear that no one has ever lived who is exactly like you and no one will ever again. You are. literally, unprecedented. What you have to offer, your blend of talents, experience and point of view, has never been seen in the universe and never will again.
Please don’t hesitate to share.
(I mean your talents and your point of view but if you are moved to share this post please feel free as well!)
Three Steps to