By SEAN DIETRICH
You are special.
You are infinitely, unbelievably, absolutely, once-in-a-septillion-years special. That’s right, I’m talking to you, one of the nine-point-two people reading this.
You might not realize your specialness. You might not believe you are unique. You might think I am full of a plentiful substance common to barnyards and hog pens. You might think you are merely ordinary. But you’re not typical. You, my friend, are a regular freak of statistics. And this is the fact.
Right now, there are 7.8 billion humans on the planet. The total number of humans alive right now represents 7% of the total number of humans who have ever lived — which is 117 billion humans. And all of these people, past and present, have one thing in common.
They ain’t you.
Nobody has ever been you. Nobody ever will be you again. Nobody will ever have your specific list of traits, talents and body odor.
This is not some weird new-age schtick. I am speaking mathematically; you are an isolated occurrence. You are an arithmetical rarity so improbable that statisticians still have not figured out how in the Sam Hill you happened.
There is no formula for you. There is no numerical way you could have happened. But just look at you, here you are. Breathing.
You probably waltz around this world thinking your life is no big deal. But au contraire, Fred Astair. Science tells us that the paltry possibility of you being born was nothing short of supernatural. We’re talking about nanoscopic odds here.
To illustrate your uniqueness, I will use the illustration of a rock and a fish:
First, imagine that the entire globe is covered in one big, expansive ocean. Now imagine that there is only one little fish swimming in this great ocean. Let’s call this fish Angie because Angie Broginez was the name of the saintly teacher who struggled unsuccessfully to teach me algebra in community college, although I had to retake her class not once, but three times.
But getting back to the fish. Let’s imagine that someone standing on a random spot on the globe throws a rock into this proverbially giant ocean. Got it? Okay.
Now, tell me, mathematically, what are the odds that this rock will land on Earth’s only fish?
I’ll tell you what the odds are: non-existent.
It can’t happen. It’s virtually impossible. Still, no matter how unlikely this rock-and-fish scenario is, the likelihood of Angie getting pinged by a rock is GREATER than the likelihood of your conception.
So whenever you start to feel crummy, just remember, your birth was a huge deal. In fact, it was more than a huge deal. It was downright inexplicable. Your conception was not just a matter of your mom and dad getting together and slow-dancing to Barry White tunes. A lot of things had to happen first.
First off: your mom’s and dad’s ancestors had to live long enough to have them. Think about it, in a world where roughly 3 million people die each day, what were the odds that every single one of your parents’ ancestors, for 150,000 generations, lived to a reproductive age and made healthy babies who THEN lived long enough to squirt out you?
I’ll tell you exactly what the odds are: 1 in 10 to the 45,000th power. Or, speaking in redneck terms: 1 in 10 with 45,000 zeros after it.
This is a number so large that it is greater than the number of particles in the known universe. A number so big, it would take several notebooks just to write it down correctly.
And that’s just the beginning.
Because every one of these ancestors — every single one — had to match exactly the right sperm with precisely the right egg to have even more ancestors which makes the odds even more unlikely.
So what kind of odds are we looking at now? Well, it’s a bigger number than the last number. The odds of several hundred thousand generations of human beings matching their sperm and eggs perfectly, then having several billion successful births that produced you are about 1 in 10 to the 2,640,000th power (about 1 quadrillion multiplied times 1 quadrillion).
Simply put, you are nature’s most infrequent phenomenon. You are not average, you are not business as usual, you are not just any old body. The blessed day you were born was an event that defied chance; there were 400 quadrillion reasons why you should not have happened. But you did happen. And here you sit. Wasting your time reading this.
So go out there and act like the miracle you are.