It’s not like I woke up one day wondering about why I’m living in the 21st century, it has been a recurring question from the recesses of my mind which surfaces frequently. Mostly at times when I am reading about some historical event or character of the olden days, and the question is, “How did I miss being born and live in a previous time in history? -- How did I get here, Now?” Since there are two factors relating to this question, existence and time, we will examine both beginning with the examination of time, before we address the question of our existence.
Time is the measure of biological progression. Biological life forms are the only part of creation for which time has meaning. Before clocks were invented, time was measured in periods of night and day, orbits of the moon, seasons, or the length of a normal life span. These measurements of time mark the span of life for everything, both plants and animals. The blue-print codes of all DNA collect atoms of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur, from the nutrients of our environment to build molecules that form all biological life, both plants and animals. This same DNA not only builds molecules for different purposes such as, flower petals, plant stem, finger nails, ear lobes, hair, teeth, bone, etc., according to the blue-print code being used, but it also has a built in expiration date for when it will begin to cease collecting atoms and building new tissue. When the life form expires, the atoms used to create it are reabsorbed back into the environment to be used again and again by other DNA builders.
Atoms used to create biological life forms are eternal. All atoms are essentially eternal. They have no expiration date. The atoms used to build granite mountains, the seas, planets, stars, galaxies, biological life forms, and the universe were created billions of years before our planet was ever formed and they are timeless. There is no element of time needed to mark their existence.
Everyone at one time or another has fantasized about what it would have been like to live during a previous or future time. Every period has tickled our fancy from life during early cave men conditions, to futuristic life in a space ship or on some distant planet. Some people have even expressed how they may have been better suited for life in an earlier time. Yet, here we are, living in the present and unsure why. How did we miss being born to live during any previous time, or during some distant future? What has caused our lives, our consciousness to experience existence now, instead of some other period of time?
Anthropologists tell us mankind has lived and walked on this planet for more than 2 million years in one form or another. Succeeding generations of these ancient ancestors have evolved into a variety of physical attributes and learning experiences. Some variations have succeeded in propagating the planet while others became extinct, or were absorbed into cultures of successful species. The races and peoples now living all over the planet have traveled far to evolve into today’s generations.
Today, we have a broad record of knowledge that tells us what it was like to have lived during almost any period in our past history. These records tell us of the daily life challenges as well as the conflicts and traditions among all people as they continued to survive, evolve and migrate over the entire planet. Countless fictional narratives have been written with settings in just about all of our prior history, not only entertaining us with epic stories, but depicting daily life occurrences. Around the end of the 18th century stories began to appear about life in the future, predicting new and yet unknown technologies, i.e. “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,” written by Jules Verne in 1870; “Flash Gordon,” film series, 1936, etc.
Although birth dates mark the chronological passing of time since the proverbial stork delivered us on some doorstep, they are not the orgin of our conscious state. The event that has produced our consciousness at this time in history was a unique biological conception. The joining of two specific sets of chromosomes from our parent donors with a one-of-a-kind set of genetic traits to produce an individual so unique, that in all of the history of mankind, there has never been, nor will there ever be another with the same combination of our DNA structure, finger prints, neurological patterns, etc.
It has been said that snowflakes have unique structures and that no two are alike. Snowflakes are composed of water molecules whose energy levels have been reduced beyond the point which allows them random movement as a vapor. Their gravity has exceeded their energy level and causes the water molecules to stick together. The shape of each individual water molecule is identical and dictates how and in what shape the snowflake will be constructed. Since there are a limited number of geometric design combinations that water molecules can assume to form snowflakes, then eventually some snowflakes will be identical. However, there is no limit to the combinations of chromosomes that can be joined together in conception to create another unique human being. Siblings produced by the same chromosome donors will possess very similar DNA characteristics, but there is enough difference between each sibling to also be a unique entity. Even identical twins are not identical when it comes to DNA and other physical characteristics. Although we as a species are similar to each other, we are all unique; we are all originals.
This unique conception creates a consciousness that is born as a blank page that genetics, learning, environmental influences, and the consequences of personal decisions will begin to record on as we live and age. Although we receive similar guidance and instruction from parents and schools, our unique thoughts and feelings are produced by a set of neurological patterns in our brain that has never existed before.
As an oak tree grows throughout its lifetime according to the blue prints of a genetic code dictated by the DNA contributed from its parent donors produces a slightly altered oak tree. When the tree is cut down, its life history is revealed and will display the effects of the environment on its growth and life. There will be some very narrow growth rings which reveal lean years of drought; there will some wide growth bands indicating years when water was abundant and the weather ideal; there will be scars made by broken limbs and fires that have threatened the life of the tree. This oak tree will have passed on to its next generations, copies of its genetic codes which have been shaped by age, environment, and experience. This parental fusion of altered chromosomes produces a new chain of DNA blue-prints for the construction of another generation of unique oak trees.
We are alive today with a consciousness because of the unique conceptional donations made by our parents whose genes have been shaped by environmental influences (mutations made by random genetic copying errors, cell changes by gamma rays, x-rays, ultraviolet rays, etc.), and the consequences of their personal decisions. These and many more factors have influenced the nature of the genetic material that is passed on to their offspring. One example of a disorder that is past down from generation to generation through defective genetic codes is hemophilia which affects primarily male descendants. Another disorder affecting genetic codes is the disastrous effect of such things as Thalidomide, illicit drugs, alcohol, etc., ingested by mothers immediately before or during pregnancies.
We are now members of the current wave of living biology on this planet. We are the unique products of not only genes from our ancestors, but the environmental influences that have colored their lives. When we die, the living wave will continue to evolve, discover, learn, change and adapt to the environment in which they live. This process is the same for all life forms, both flora and fauna. As the wave of life rolls on, it continues to contribute to the knowledge bank of discoveries and experiences made by previous generations as all biological species evolve to adapt and survive changing environments. Life forms that are able to survive environmental changes of the planet on which we live represent the fittest of the species.
Why am I here -- now? It was no accident. It is the result of thousands of generations of very specific donor combinations of chromosomes. “We only live once,” sounds like lyrics to a song, or the title of a movie, or an ad theme for a product encouraging us to live with gusto and live life to the fullest, yet, it is an axiom based on truth. In all of recorded history, there has been only one Neanderthal named Grog (70,000 BC), one King Khufu (Cheops), (2700–2675 BC), one Socrates (469–399 BC), one Democritus (460–370 BC), one Aristotle (384–322 BC), one Leif Ericson (970–1020), one Galileo (1564–1642), one George Washington Carver (1864–1943), one Nelson Mandela (1918), and one, YOU.
Human beings, like many other species, are social animals with herd instincts which have been nurtured by survival instincts, and have developed cultural vehicles to meet these social needs; vehicles such as small nomadic family groups, to larger multi family groups, to clans, to tribes, to villages, to cities, to kingdoms, etc. With each succeeding larger group size, new and increasing numbers of rules were required to maintain group cooperativeness and a cultural hierarchy to keep the peace. A large percentage of the today’s world populations live in cultures that consist of both government and religion as one ruling entity. In many of these countries there is no separation of religion and state interests. Examples would include most of the Middle Eastern countries such as Israel, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Italy, etc. and to lesser extents, Italy, and England. Religious dissent in most of these countries is not only discouraged, but in some cases is met with a severe penalty of death. Only in recently developed Western countries has there been an effort to separate the necessity for government from the interests of religion.
An innate will to survive permeates all life forms, both plant and animal. Without it life would not exist. It is in the very marrow of our being. Ending life by any means is vigorously resisted and counter to the essence of life itself. Throughout history man has tried to avoid death by the use of magic, potions, alchemy, even animal sacrifices in the effort to extend physical life, without any success. When rulers, wizards, shaman, witch doctors, and priests could not conjure physical immortality for mankind, the idea of man having a mysterious consciousness or spirit that would continue to exist after the physical body died, was introduced as a tool to control large numbers of ignorant and superstitious people long before the Judeo/Christian Cannons were ever written. The philosophy that developed was that our spirits would inherit immortality and receive either an eternal reward of bliss or eternal torture as punishment, determined by the conduct and behavior of our mortal existence. Cultures have created various names for places where our immortal consciousness or spirits go when we die. Places with names like Valhalla, Eden, Happy Hunting Ground, Spirit World, Arcadia, Canaan, Elysium, Shangri-la, Utopia, Zion, Nirvana, Heaven, etc., all the result of mankind seeking to know a destination for his immortal life.
In this wave of biological life rolling through time are species of various life spans. Giant Sequoias live thousands of years; the oldest known Giant Sequoia was 3500 years old. A colony of 47,000 Aspen trees in the Fish Lake National Forest, located in south central Utah, share a common root system which is estimated to be 80,000 years old. On the other end of the spectrum is the shortest life span, the adult Mayfly, which may live from just a few minutes to a few hours. The life span of almost all other life forms ranges somewhere between these two extremes. Chromosomes of the parents of all life forms produce unique individuals whose consciousness of the present exists only once. For us who are living in the current wave of biological life, it is NOW.
"Do not do to others what would anger you if done to you by others." – Isocrates (436–338 BCE), and enjoy your ride in the wave of life. It’s the only one we will experience.