…that for 3.8 billion years, a period of time older than the Earth’s mountains and rivers and oceans, every one of your forebears on both sides has been attractive enough to find a mate, healthy enough to reproduce, and sufficiently blessed by fate and circumstances to live long enough to do so. Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, drowned, starved, stuck fast, untimely wounded or otherwise deflected from its life’s quest of delivering a tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner at the right moment to perpetuate the only possible sequence of hereditary combinations that could result - eventually, astoundingly, and all too briefly - in you. (Bill Bryson; A Short History of Nearly Everything)
I love the above quote but it leaves me with a sense of disquiet. You see, I’m not quite sure how to feel knowing that the impossibly long genetic sequence which has preceded me is likely to end with me. As someone who is not in the “family way”, it appears that I will be the end of the line, the final outcome of a vast, unbroken chain of events stretching back to the dawn of time. After so much evolutionary success it’s somewhat amusing to think that I may be an experiment that didn’t work, an evolutionary dead-end, as it were. One could say that it’s difficult to comprehend, given the successes that I have been built upon. Be that as it may, and as depressing as it might sound, it’s a reminder that I shouldn’t take myself too seriously. Life, in general, is a crapshoot. Some of us will hit the target and some will not, and whether you like it or not, that’s just the way it is, because we are all integral parts of the process.