As you check the Reedsy contest stories, something makes you click a title and read a story.
If you are reading this, you are lucky. If someone else is reading this to you, you are also lucky. If these words are being conveyed to you in any shape or form, you are incredibly lucky. Why is that? Because it means you are alive. You exist.
Have you ever wondered how close you came to almost not existing? A few stray molecules of DNA here, a stray asteroid there and you’d not be sitting there, reading these words. But, you are. You are here. Alive.
And just how lucky are you, really? You might think your life is pretty ordinary, nothing special. You might have a job, you might have a family, perhaps you go to school and spend time with your friends, you go out for walks or sit on the couch and watch TV, you work with and for the people, you respect, doing something meaningful with your time. Maybe your life is pleasant, decent, and comfortable.
Or maybe you struggle to get by daily. You might not have a job, you might be in a bad relationship, live in a toxic environment, endure emotional or physical abuse. Perhaps you have to slave away and sacrifice yourself so that others can have a chance for a better life or a life at all. Maybe your life is not so pleasant, not that decent and far from comfortable.
Still, you are lucky.
Chances are high that you were born without any major illnesses or bodily disfigurements. In that case, you are very lucky. Some people aren’t as lucky as you are. And even if you have those illnesses or disfigurements, you’re still lucky.
You probably grew up in a relatively stable environment, with a roof over your head and food in your belly and clothes on your skin. Maybe your parents didn’t buy you all the toys you ever wanted and perhaps they yelled at you sometimes, but all in all, they did not beat you up, leave you out on the street to starve, or abuse you in some other way. Some people weren’t that lucky, but even if you are like one of them, you’re still lucky. You’re still alive, sitting here, reading.
You might not have everything that you wish for. Hell, you might not have anything at all. You might wish you were someone else, someone more loving, more compassionate, more decisive, capable. Someone less fat. Someone more confident. Someone with more friends, a better lifestyle, someone earning more money, living in a safer environment. Someone better than who you are. A better lover, a better friend, a better decision-maker. A better person. But still, you are lucky.
You are so lucky in fact, that it’s a miracle. You’d think such luck exists only in fairy tales or movies, yet you have it. And so do other people.
And what is this luck, you ask?
What is this miracle, that is so wonderful that it trumps all other problems and ailments?
Well, it’s you. It’s your life, your existence. You, sitting there, reading this.
Imagine for a moment, what it took for you to come to this moment in your life, this very moment of now. Imagine all the things that had to happen for you to be able to start reading this story.
First, you had to be born. Your mother and father had to conceive you, they had to have sex and your mother had to carry you in her womb for nine months or so, from the moment you were but a seed to the point where you grew into a baby. That in itself is quite a miracle, yet you never even think about it.
After you were born, you had to learn how to live. How to draw breath. How to see, hear, touch, smell, and feel. None of these things came for granted, even though you take them as such. You had to discover them, learn them, experiment with them.
You had to learn how to eat. How to move, eventually walk and talk. It was a long process before you even said your first word, let alone knew what it meant, or knew how to write it or read it on a page.
You had to go to school to learn how to read and write. You had to gain life experience to be able to understand the contents and contexts of what you read. Years of your life, to understand what a simple word like ‘oak’ means. Quite a feat, you should feel proud.
But despite so much effort from your part, for you to be sitting here right now, reading this, all was not up to you. As a matter of fact, you only played a small part in it. An infinitesimal part, to be honest.
For you to be able to read this on your computer or smartphone, someone had to invent those things. And build them. And sell them. And you or your parents needed to acquire the money to buy them.
Someone had to come up with the idea for the site this story is posted on and set it up, for you to be able to access this story. And someone has to keep maintaining that site, otherwise, it wouldn't be here.
But even before all that, someone had to invent writing, for thoughts and stories to be translated into a readable form and for letters and words to have meaning. Language had to be constructed. Words, phrases, rules, meanings, structure… A desire for knowledge and information to be passed on, not only by word of mouth but by written text also. A tangible legacy.
You see, there is much that you take for granted, where in fact you’re dealing with miracles. How incredible it is, to be able to read the thoughts and words of someone who lived hundreds of years before you? Or someone that lives on the other side of the world? It’s like time travel and teleportation combined, only it’s real.
But even the creation of language and computers, and even your own birth, are but small reasons for your luck - as much of a miracle as they are in their own right. You see, for there to even be a human race, to which you were born, there had to be a planet that could support it. A planet with just the right conditions, with enough heat, water, air, solid ground, and a billion other things, that allowed you to evolve. You see, the miracle of you sitting there, reading this, goes deeper than just the ability to interpret symbols on a screen.
It is nothing short of pure magic.
For there to be humanity, there had to be Earth. For there to be Earth, there had to be a universe. And there could just as easily not have been either. Where does it say that there has to be a universe? That there has to be a planet with just the right conditions for a species of humans to evolve? And where does it say that these humans have to invent writing and electricity and computers and set up a site for short stories so that other humans could go read them? Nowhere, does it say, that this has to be so. It is not a given, it is a miracle. Not to be taken for granted, but recognized as the luck it is.
So, for you to be sitting there, reading this, a whole instrumentality of means had to be at work, the whole universe had to rearrange itself to allow this moment. It is a cosmic-wide event, reading words on a computer screen. Your reading spreads from the birth of the first quark, through the smashing of atoms, spinning of galaxies, evolution of mammals and human inventiveness, through your own birth and learning of concepts, to the bagel or apple you ate this morning that sustained your body, through the electrons that speed through the circuitry of your computer screen or phone and to the light reaching your eyes, being converted into a signal, traveling to your brain where your mind creates meaning out of the symbols it sees, we finally have reading. And you take it for granted.
Can you see how lucky you actually are? Everything in the universe has been built up to allow you this moment, to allow you to read this text.
And it’s not just reading.
You are lucky all the time. In every moment. In every now.
You don’t need science or religion or spirituality to experience a miracle. You need only to realize it.
Do you realize how little it could have taken for you not to be here? If one small thing was changed along the billions of years-long chain of events that lead up to this moment, you could not be sitting there, reading. Some fundamental ‘law of reality’ might break and nothing would exist in the first place. An asteroid could hit Earth and mammals would never have evolved. You could have been hit by a bus on your way to school or work this morning. Maybe you nearly died today, but you don’t realize it, not having seen the threat passing by. You could have clicked on a different title, a different internet site entirely, or not have gone on the web at all.
This moment, right here, right now, you exist, when billions upon billions of other potential human beings do not. The structure of our DNA allows for so many combinations to form, that the possible human beings that could have been born outnumber the sand grains of Sahara. Yet, you made it. You won. You were chosen by the universe, to sit there, and read this story.
You awoke as a human, when you could just as easily have remained an idea in your parents' minds, a stray lost seed, or not even that, but just a random mass of stardust, floating around in an empty void.
Your very existence proves how much reality loves you, for it denied all other possibilities in favor of you. That’s how lucky you are. That’s what true luck is. It’s not a statistics thing or a probability, not even a game of chance, it’s a fact that you are lucky.
You think winning the lottery is lucky? How about being alive?
You think surviving a lightning strike is lucky? How about being alive to even have the opportunity to experience something as remarkable as lightning?
You think catching the green wave on the street during rush hour is lucky? How about having the privilege to exist where countless others do not?
So, dear you, sitting there, reading. Don’t take your luck for granted. It will not last forever. You will die one day and join back with those countless masses who never had the chance to live at all. And what will you tell them, when that day comes? Will you complain about your stupid boss? Argue how stressful, boring, difficult and miserable life has been? Those who never had a chance to live will gawk at you, thinking you’ve gone mad. They would give up their immortality for a chance to live, but they were not chosen.
You were the one who won the cosmic lottery of life. A lottery with such a staggering fail rate that even the lowest prizes are more of a statistical outlier than a reachable chance. And you’ve won the first prize.
The question is, now that you realize this, what will you do with that prize? Will you store it in a bank, put it away and hide it from the world, hoping no one comes by and steals it from you? Will you spend it all, going on a frenzy, hoping that more stuff will make you happy? Will you use your prize or neglect it?
Will you help the poor? Help yourself? Give it away?
Or will you claim your prize, recognize it for the miracle it is and use it as best you can, to repay for the kindness that has been shown to you, the trust that has been put into you?
Will you live up to the status of being chosen by the universe?
But, then again, this is just a story, mere symbols on an electrical illusion of a screen. You are just a human, sitting there. Maybe a cat. Maybe an alien. How can you possibly live up to such big expectations and give your life - and with it, the universe - justice?
Well, I don’t know.
That’s for you to figure out.
It’s why you’re alive for.
I’m merely here to remind you who you are.
You, lucky you.