It is not difficult to recognize that our time is finite. When considering where our bodies come from, our travels reach far beyond our lifetimes. Previously distributed throughout unimagineable expanses of space and time, the bits and pieces required for our existence have been gracious enough to arrange themselves (or to have been arranged) in such a way that we are enabled with consciousness. This applies to all seven billion others who share this small planet we call home (also see: http://scaleofuniverse.com/ and make sure you also check out Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s “Most Astounding Fact” tab). Also, I wanted to give credit to Richard Dawkins and Mark Twain for some great quotes.
Although knowing our origins can help to place us in the big picture, how does that help fit within the world as we know it? Some are gifted with talents that others do not have or born into favor, and some are misfortunate in status or physical aspects, but we all have our strengths and weaknesses. There are many stories about less capable individuals succeeding because of nothing more than a burning desire to be successful (and likewise, brilliant minds that die idle). We know of small and ill-equipped armies defeating enemies believed to be indomitable. While breaking the mold is not something we think of as typical, it is borne of truth: we all come from a place we cannot imagine, and we are all capable of things that we do not believe are possible.
Whether or not you believe that a greater being assembled all of this, the world we live in, and your ability to interact with it is the result of a great deal of unlikely circumstance. What separates an atheist from a believer is whether or not you believe that a higher-power assembled us (or more specifically, which higher power). In any case, we were once stardust, and here we are now contemplating it. Aside from the big blue ball of space matter under our feet, the world we interact with is a structure of well-defined expectations created by humans. All of our cultural practices, religious beliefs, circumstantial mannerisms, etc, are all things that are taught, and nothing more than a certain way of doing things that has been passed down through generations. I don’t want to diminish the accomplishments of mankind, because we have come up with some truly remarkable things. I’m wanting to simplify all that divides us; if you grow up here you will learn it this way, if you grow up there you will learn it that way. Another way to accomplish the same goal, is nothing more than another way.
Even though we tend to believe that our differences are supposed to mean something, most of our differences are trivial. The mystery is why we feel so strongly about maintaining our separation, even at the cost of life. In order to let ones who are like us continue living a certain way, we are willing to refuse another’s right to do so; even if that means destroying (or giving up) the one thing that sets us apart from the ground we walk on.
Why all this talk of where we come from and the relative insignificance of ideas that humans have created? Simple: to propose that your life is not as complete or finalized as you may believe it to be. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Give up your preconceived ideas about who you are supposed to be or what you should become, for the only certainty is that your body will one day be reunited with the earth. Being that we are nothing more than a fortunate arrangement of molecules granted time to be animated, I say we have a duty to ensure that we don’t look back on our life and believe that there was anything left undone. When your body returns to the ashes, ensure your bones know adventure that dust cannot imagine.