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Being Alive At All Is Already Beating the Odds

This is an article about how ridiculously unlikely it is for any of us to exist at all. How, every day we are alive, is already a celebration cause the odds say none of us should even be here.

Hey, you. I love you. I don’t care who you are. You are my brother or my sister. You are valued. You are loved. You mean something. You are special.

Billions and Billions and Billions of years ago, the universe was born in the biggest explosion possible in our universe. Immediately after, the universe as we know it was a soup of matter and energy, too hot for anything to exist as anything but a plasma. Twenty minutes later, it was so cold the universe was filled with a LOT of hydrogen, a bunch of helium (97% of all helium that will ever exist was created here), and a very small bit of Lithium and Beryllium. Over the next hundreds of millions of years, the elements formed clouds and the gravity within those clouds pushed that Hydrogen together to form the first stars.

Stars make elements. Everything we see, everything we know, everything we are was created inside a star. The early stars turned Hydrogen into Helium. After they ran out of Hydrogen, the stars started burning the Helium, turning it into Carbon and Oxygen before the weight forced the stars to explode, sending those elements out into the universe. Every once in awhile, though, a much, much more massive star forms. Stars that make our Sun look like a grain of sand on the beach of this vast planet. The more massive the star, the more pressure that builds up inside. The more pressure built up inside, the hotter it becomes. It is in these, and only these, conditions in which heavier elements form. Every heavy element that you know- from Iron, to Gold, to Uranium, was formed in the explosions made by Supernovae. Those elements, after billions of years, joined heavier clouds and formed everything from our Sun to the Planets to the asteroids that litter our solar system. Every piece of jewelry you wear, every car you drive, everything that you know and that you are was born billions of years ago in the explosions of the most massive things to ever exist in our universe.

After our planet cooled down, it was continually bombarded by space rocks. Space rocks that were also formed from the same supernovae that formed our planet. A team found one of these asteroids and found that they contained early bits of amino acids. Amino acids that are the building blocks of all life on this planet. Amino acids that, when making contact with the water that littered our planet, eventually formed proteins, which formed single celled organisms and, eventually, the rest of life as we know it.

They say there have been Five mass extinction events on earth. The first was about 450 million years ago and wiped out between 60-70% of all species on the planet. The second was about 375 million years ago. This one lasted about 20 million years and killed off more than 70% of the species on Earth, again. The third one was 252 million years ago. This one is the largest extinction in Earth history, wiping out between 90-96% of all species. They call it “The Great Dying”. The fourth event occurred 201.3 million years ago and wiped out 70-75% of all species. This left the dinosaurs as the dominant species on this planet. This lasted until 66 million years ago when the final extinction event came and killed 75% of the species on the planet, again, include every dinosaur that couldn’t fly.

Mammals took over after that. And, throughout the next tens of millions of years, humans came to be. And generation after generation kept making babies. Mother after mother after mother continuing a line that started before we understood what life even was. For thousands and thousands of years, every mother that had every baby did so so that you could exist.

You are amazing. You are special. None of us should even exist at all. If our cloud didn’t have the right amount of heavy elements. If our planet didn’t get seeded with life at the right time. If the Earth hadn’t settled in the Goldilocks zone around the sun (Just Right for life to evolve). If just one of those extinction events had killed just one species that led to humanity, we wouldn’t be here. If one mother had not had her babies, your family line would have stopped hundreds of years ago and you wouldn’t exist. If just one different sperm had fertilized an egg someone else would have existed somewhere along the line and everyone in your family would be a completely different person. Your entire family tree wouldn’t exist as you know it.

I know life is hard. But, the fact is, we are alive. That is the most insane, unlikely, unbelievable thing that we could ever imagine. The odds of that happening are so astronomical, it would be a farce to try and calculate. And yet here you are. And here I am. And, as tough as it gets, we at least get to experience something so wonderful and unlikely, and we really should do nothing else but cram every last bit of life into every last second we have.

Hey, you. You are special. You exist in spite of all the odds. And I love you.

(original post)