By John O'Leary. This was originally posted on JohnOLearyInspires.com. When John O'Leary was 9 years old, he suffered burns over 100% of his body and was expected to die. He is now an inspirational speaker and bestselling author, teaching more than 50,000 people around the world each year how to live inspired. John's first book, ON FIRE: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life was published March 15, 2016. John is a contributing writer for Huff Post and Parade.com. John is a proud husband and father of four and resides in St. Louis, MO. Order John’s book today anywhere books are sold.
Have you ever considered the odds of you being here?
No, I don’t mean reading this blog, staring at your phone or sitting at your desk. Have you ever contemplated the chance of you simply being alive?
Last week, while driving through the stunning countryside of Ireland, I had some time to reflect on that question, the answer to it, and why it should matter to you. Let me explain.
As I navigated a full-sized van, packed with kids, loaded with luggage, white-knuckling the exceptionally curvy, narrow roads, there were periods of silence when all six of us quietly sat in awe of the beautiful landscape. My oldest son, Jack, broke one of those rare moments of silence when he asked how my wife and I decided where to attend college.
Beth shared that she almost went to a different college, in a different city, to become a nurse. At the last minute, though, she chose to attend St. Louis University for their exceptional Occupational Therapy program.
I shared schools that I had considered, why I almost went to one in the south, and how late in my final year of high school, I pivoted and chose to attend St. Louis University.
Beth then looked back at the kids and added, “You all should be glad we went where we did, too. Because if dad didn’t change his mind, and I didn’t change mine, we would have never met.”
She then playfully, but accurately added, “And if we hadn’t met, none of you would be here!”
After a few moments of quiet, one of our little ones chirped back, “Wow. I never thought about that. We really are fortunate to be here!”
My Four Miracles – Jack, Patrick, Henry and Grace
As we continued the drive through the Irish countryside, I thought about the mighty strike of fortune, luck, or blessing that lead to a family of six staring out the window of the rental van. I soon realized it ran much deeper than just our college selection.
Had Beth not rushed her sorority, or if I joined a different fraternity, we wouldn’t have met on a chilly January night in 1998.
If my little brother in the fraternity hadn’t at the last minute invited a friend named Beth and introduced us at the beginning of the night, the kids behind us wouldn’t be there.
If I hadn’t asked her onto the dance floor, if she hadn’t been bold enough to take my hand, or if we hadn’t exchanged phone numbers at the end of the night, we wouldn’t be traveling this road together.
An extraordinarily unlikely sequence of events generated a spark of interest, years of friendship, an eventual romantic connection, two years of dating, almost 15 years of marriage, unexpected ups and downs on the journey … and four little miracles staring out the windows in Ireland with us today.
The Science Behind Our Existence
Years ago, statisticians investigated the odds of you being born – to your parents, with your unique genetic makeup, at the exact time you were born. The numbers are astounding: the unlikely odds of two people meeting one another, forming a long-term relationship and having kids.
Not to mention the fact that each man produces more than 500 billion sperm during his lifetime and each woman about 200,000 eggs (all with DNA for a unique individual). It involves the right sperm meeting the right egg at the exact right moment.
So, what’s the chance?
About 1 in 400,000,000,000,000.
That means there is less than one in 400 trillion chances of you existing. No one would dare play the lottery with odds like that! Yet, here you are.
Your existence is either a cosmically unlikely accident and completely devoid of meaning. Or, the way I see it, your life is one of the greatest blessings and miracles fathomable.
We often think too small about our lives. We spend an inordinate amount of time staring in the mirror at drooping skin, expanding waistlines, and growing wrinkles rather than the stunning, living reflection glancing back at us.
Frequently we focus on the negative, on all we don’t have, or the litany of problems we face… rather than on the limitless possibility within and around us.
We spend a fair amount of time comparing our friends, calendar, house, job, paycheck, health, life to others rather than inventorying the innumerable blessings present within our lives.
My friends, as we glance around life we get to choose how to view it, ALL of it.
One interpretation is that nothing is a miracle. Today, I challenge you to recognize the truth that everything is a miracle.
If you are looking for proof, start with the reflection in the mirror and remember: You are truly 1 in 400 trillion.
It’s time to act like it.
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