There are billions upon billions of planets in the observable universe. Most are inhospitable to life.
They’re in the wrong position relative to the nearest star, they have the wrong atmosphere, or their surface doesn’t have the right component elements. Out of all those potential sites for life to flourish, we have the only planet where all the conditions worked out favorably.
Here we are. We exist.
You’re here, reading these words, doing whatever you did just before this, and about to do whatever comes next.
And you’re as unlikely to have ever existed as life itself.
Think of the slow transfer of human genetic material through generation after generation for thousands of years (because let’s not completely blow our minds and go all the way back to add single-celled organisms to our family tree). Think of all the events, both historical and common, that lead to the exact DNA cocktail that brewed you.
A chance meeting of two people. A war forcing a family to flee their homeland. The work of a savvy matchmaker. A natural disaster. The thoughtful consideration of future parents looking for a donor.
These are just a few of the potential steps on the journey to get to you.
It’s something I think about a lot, given that my dad is the keeper of his family’s genealogical records. And if it ever stops seeming strange to me, I think about the fact that I’m a Mayflower descendent and my daughter happened to be born in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
We are all part of a larger conversation with this history of unlikely existence. We all come from somewhere, and whether or not we personally have children, we all shape the world that new people will be born into.
But it wasn’t necessarily going to be this way.
Earth could have been hit by a huge chunk of space debris at just the wrong moment and wound up with a different orbit. The boat carrying your ancestor across the ocean could have capsized. Some misaligned chromosomes could have prevented the cell division that allowed you to grow and flourish.
You are not just part of a line, but a singular point. You are a marvelous improbability.
Even if you feel like a disappointment to the people most important to you. Even if you can’t find work that feels meaningful to you. Even if your family refuses to use your proper pronouns, or people won’t take you seriously as the protagonist of your own story, or you face disrespect based on your skin, your speech, who you love, or the place you were born.
Even if you have to fight an endless battle with part of your own mind that believes you’re worthless and don’t have any right to exist.
Remember that you are a marvelous improbability.
You get to be here.
You deserve to feel awe and wonder at the very fact of your own existence.