Do you ever feel as though that the odds are stacked up against you? Have you ever felt that the weasels are closing in, and that your hands are tied?
Well, here’s some news. For the most part, those feelings sum up the situation perfectly.
It depends to some extent on what you want out of life, but for the vast majority of people, they are very unlikely to get it. There are likely to be career goals that will not be fulfilled, relationship issues that are never fully resolved, financial goals that fall short of the mark, personal bests that are never bettered, and a whole host of other things that they will die before they achieve.
It’s true for most if not all of us. It is human nature to strive for better, but nature’s habit to kill us before we get there.
In short, it’s a big horse’s bell-end, and we might as well give up.
It would be nice now, if this article could go on to offer a solution to this age old problem, but I’m afraid it isn’t going to. You see to suggest a solution would be to proffer the lies of the thousands of self help gurus who have sprung up to share their wisdom through the ages. In case this sounds a little cynical (me?), let’s look at a couple of examples.
My favourite iteration of self help philosophy is The Law of Attraction, as brought to us by William Walker Atkinson and friends. It states that through positive thinking and living one’s life as though the things that we hope for are already a reality, everything that we have ever wanted will become a reality. Apparently, the universe will give it to us.
The concept behind The Law of Attraction is very appealing. All you have to do to get what you want is want it enough and behave as though you already have it. If, for example, you are struggling to make ends meet and you would like more money, the solution, according to the theory, is to want more money and behave as though you already have it. So rather than responding in the way that I have always done when times have been hard, and tightening the purse strings, one should fling wide the purse strings and spend as though everything were OK. Seeing this, the Universal Consciousness will make this a reality, and grant us the means to continue.
Personally, I find it very difficult to believe that, as Quentin Crisp put it, “whatever power it is that causes the spheres to revolve will take time out to buy me a 5 speed bicycle”. More over, the nature of the concept means that any evidence shown in it favour will necessarily be anecdotal, and at best, be based on the strength of an individual’s desire for something.
The theory is unprovable, and there seems a very real possibility that it could all be bollocks!
It is very similar to another popular belief that great things will happen to those who believe in themselves. Now this seems to hold a grain of truth in as much success is more likely to come to people who relate well to others, who seem confident, and who do not spend their time hiding under the duvet, crippled with self doubt. But belief in one’s abilities is not, in itself,
enough to guarantee a bright future. It is perfectly possible to believe in one’s ability to do well at something without every having any real aptitude for it. A look at the auditions for popular talent contests will illustrate this point adequately.
No, in the real world, success comes to people who have talent, self belief, and most importantly, a massive helping of luck, and even then, it comes only to very few of them. Our qualities may well shape our luck to a certain extent, but not so much as to make anything but luck the single biggest factor. I suppose that we could look at out good luck as being granted by the Universal Consciousness, but as we never hear followers of The Law of Attraction saying that the universe gave them a good kick in their softer areas when things went wrong, I feel safe in assuming that this would not be a reasonable approach.
Returning to the original point, there is very little to get us around the fact that the odds are stacked very much against us in terms of achieving everything that we would like to in life, and no amount of faffing with the gurus of hope is going to change that.
But here’s the thing. The odds made be stacked against you in such a way that your chance of attaining all your goals is pretty small, but the chances of you existing in the first place are so infinitesimally tiny, that I think everything else pales into insignificance.
For you to be alive today, there has been a series of events so incredible that the chances of your birth are as close to zero as makes no difference.
Let’s look back to those first single celled creatures who wobbled around in the primordial soup and were later eaten in their millions. There was one of those little fellas who eventually started to give rise to you. After various creatures had haplessly wandered a little further down your evolutionary path, it became ncessaruy to take the mixed genetic material of two mating cretures to continue the journey towards becoming you. For generation after generation, it took both parents to survive to maturity and encounter one another in some way in order to create the necessary genetic combination that would move further towards becoming who you are today. Over thousands of generations, it was necessary for two specific individuals to survive, meet and mate in order that you could be born at all. When you take into account that on each occasion, it seems very likely that a specific sperm would need to win the race to the egg in order for the necessary coding to be continued, the numbers start to get really silly.
In fact, it has been calculated that the odds of you existing at all are 102,685,000 to 1. For the less mathematically minded among us (that’s me), this is a 10 followed 2,685,000 zeros to 1.
I certainly wish I’d placed a bet on you happening.
The numbers are explained here – http://www.businessinsider.com/infographic-the-odds-of-being-alive-2012-6
To look at the flip side of that remarkable statistic, that means that there was a 1 in 102,685,000 chance that you would ever see a sunrise, breathe the air, meet your parents, walk, swim, laugh, cry or absolutely anything else. In the light of that, the fact that you might not get the promotion you wanted or have as satisfactory a bank balance as you would have liked doesn’t really seem so important, does it?
So whether you achieve all of your goals or not (and you probably won’t), just remember how lucky you are to be here at all. Enjoy it. True, It’s only stuff, but the chances of you having any of it at all were so small that it might be worth counting your blessings.
Until next time,
Minister of stuff.