Pacific Talisman

Salt-sanded hull

carves icy waves –

Forward ho, like a beam of light

penetrating every particle

to reach and touch

the waiting, indigo horizon.

They cling like effervescent magnets

to its arched, symmetrical body,

splashing up and outwards

like hands clapping; praising;

a raucous choir of

antediluvian sound.

What Are the Chances

Today I heard that the probability of being born is about one in 400 trillion. With a chance that small to be who you are, your being alive is nothing short of a miracle! It turns out, I am not the only one curious about this statistic.

Meanwhile, I’ve been reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel The Signature of All Things, in which the main character is on a quest to understand the scientific laws of nature in the 19th century when much was not yet known. She talks of transmutation and competition, struggle as the catalyst for change in all species, and the constant unfolding of creation occurring all around us, often at a microscopic level, invisible to the naked eye.

And all this has got me thinking about the marvel of life.

It’s easy to forget that we’re here for a grand experiment – something that cannot be quantified by Facebook posts or Instagram photos. How often do we drive to work, eyes glazed over, ignoring the precious moment? Or hide from our fears of interacting with one another behind phones and headphones on the bus, in the coffee shop, or at the park? With so much forgetting how precious this being alive is, how do we  make use of this rare chance in 400 trillion that we’ve been given?

That’s the paradox of being human I suppose. We’re each so painfully and stubbornly at the mercy of our thoughts and emotions that it’s rare to be fully present for longer than a number of minutes, if not seconds. It’s like we’re blinking our way through life, opening to the miracle of being alive for brief moments of warming light, only to close our eyes once more to the night. We’re such strange creatures!

I am no less a blinking speck of stardust than the rest with one in 400 trillion chances that I’d be the human I am, born on March 9, to my mother and father. It’s certainly something to be grateful for. And yet, I am the first to admit I stumble often into the illusion that I’m all alone and that life is a series of painful events and challenges. It takes effort to right my ship and look at all the good around me. Often times, it takes a phone call or a hug to feel connected to the love of my friends and family again. It’s okay that it’s not easy. Maybe we’re designed for such a meandering range of awareness.

Nevertheless, it’s good to make the effort to think about all there is to be grateful for; it certainly helps bolster the soul. So tonight, when you reflect on your day before nodding off to sleep, keep in mind how rare and special it is that you get to be who you are in this very moment in time. You’re a miracle, a mystery, an ever-changing specimen of the human kind, and I’m so glad we get to be here together.

Portrait