I recently stayed with friends in Toronto, by Lake Ontario. On one of the last days of my visit they showed me an amazing archeological find that they had inherited from an ex-tenant. As today is my birthday, I feel that it is apt time to consider the very nature of time itself.
Pictured above is fossil that dates back over 4 million years. It has out-existed the average healthy human around 50,000 times. It preceded modern forms of humanity by 3.8 million years, and considering that civilisation as we know it is only around 6000 years old, we are as a modern society but a mere drop in an infantesimal abyss that we define as time.
Holding this historic artefact, I started to consider why I was feeling growingly irrelevant. I had an expanding sense that I was somewhat metaphorically swallowed up by the near limitless nature of life on this planet, where millions upon millions of living beings have trodden before. To add perspective, it is scientifically estimated that there have been around 107 billion humans that have inhabited this planet at one point or another. Through this, I am rendered as 1 in 107 billions: or in other words close to obsolete in the grander scheme of things.
It wasn’t till left Toronto to visit Montreal, to visit my cousins, that I realised an alternative perspective. One cousin left me with a poignant thought, as I spoke to her about how I had felt. She reminded me that on my birthday, the sun and moon align in a unique way for that day and it is in this that we should find solace. It got me to thinking about what it means to be human.
Then it hit me.
You and I are 2 in 107 billion, but, there has never been a single person before us and will never be a single person after us who will be so uniquely beautiful as we are.
You and I are infinitley unrepeatable.
In a beautiful twist, We find our true sense of self and dignity from truly understanding that we are one in 107 billion, and the glorious implications of this.