What are YOU?

This colored scanning electron micrograph shows several specialized elements within a liver cell. Source: http://discovermagazine.com/galleries/2015/jan-feb/science-beautiful

The human body is an incredible machine. One that has been in the making for over billions of years. The process began when chemistry gave us the very first single-celled microorganisms. Natural selection did the rest. Lo and behold; here you are. Wasting your time reading thoughts written down by yet another chemical powerhouse who functions just like you. One who breathes, eats, produces energy, uses it all, and ultimately does his part by making sure he increases the entropy of the Universe. The ultimate quest.

“The most complicated form of life is built from the simplest form of life; the cell, the basic building block of life”

We work on simple principles dictated by the laws of physics and chemistry. A by-product of science. Evolution has a funny way of doing things. The most complicated form of life is built from the simplest form of life; the cell, the basic building block of life. Tiny chemical powerhouses reproducing and dying each and every second all throughout your body. Nature has built us up from dust (from water, technically. But that isn’t nearly as poetic). Complicated structures from the simplest ones, like a Death Star built from Lego blocks.

Life from DNA. Source: http://healthylnb.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/diet-and-DNA.jpg
“The total length of uncoiled DNA inside your body could cover the distance between the Earth and the Sun a staggering 746 times!”

The chemistry behind the working of these cells is fascinating, to say the least. It contains all the information that makes you, YOU inside it. Most importantly, it contains your DNA; a ridiculously complicated structure made up of proteins that gives you all your characteristics. From your height to the colour of eyes; from the colour of your hair to the shape of your nose. Absolutely everything about you; stacked neatly in the complex chains of molecules wound in coils. Your source code. To give you an idea about exactly how complicated DNA actually is, imagine this: the total length of uncoiled DNA inside a SINGLE cell (roughly 10–100 µm in size) is about 3 metres. Your body contains about 37.2 trillion cells. Add all this up and the total length of uncoiled DNA inside your body could cover the distance between the Earth and the Sun a staggering 746 times! Numbers your brains cannot even imagine. This is what makes you what you are. A living, breathing human being capable of making conscious decisions and having a thought.

“Everything has a purpose: to create meaning. Meaning out of seemingly meaningless things”

You are the emergent property of chemistry. All these 37.2 trillion cells coming together to make something smart. Something that exists merely due to the networking and communication between all these chemicals. Perfectly synchronised. Take one part out and the whole structure will fall in a state of utter chaos. We see this everywhere around us. The principle of Emergence. We see it in our buildings, our Governments, our architecture, our technology. Several seemingly useless things coming together to create structures of such vast importance that humanity would stop functioning should one of these fail. Nothing exists just for the sake of it. Everything has a purpose: to create meaning. Meaning out of seemingly meaningless things. Take a piece of steel and by itself, it is just scrap. But collect several trillion pieces and arrange them together and you have a building. Our whole Universe is an excellent example of an emergent phenomenon. All the things that exist in it come out of a single point of infinite density. The Big Bang. Something out of nothing. Emergence.

The Large-scale structure of our Universe; the emergent property of the laws of physics. Source: http://www.sciencemag.org

The major disadvantage of having these incredibly powerful brains is that we sometimes forget to appreciate just how unique we are. A statistical anomaly. You are not just the chemistry of molecules. You are something deeper than that. Something much more meaningful. You are the Emergence that arises out of chemistry. The coming together of several trillion stupid non-living, dumb things to make an intelligent human being who has the power to influence the planet on which you live. You are more than the sum of your parts. Zoom all the way in and you will find you are only made up of chemicals which most certainly are not alive. What makes you alive is the interaction between these trillions of tiny chemical factories that require absolute coordination with each other even if you have to do the most mundane tasks like lifting a finger or moving your leg. The strength of unity on display every time you even so much as blink an eye.

“Life isn’t some profound journey we must undertake to appease the heavens”

Life has no particular meaning. It isn’t some profound journey we must undertake to appease the heavens. It isn’t taking you anywhere. Neither Heaven nor Hell. It is pointless, in a way. Insignificant. You spend your life, every waking minute of it, thinking you must find the meaning of life, the purpose of our existence. But maybe it doesn’t exist. You have been given the incredible power of conscious thought just as a crooked joke by nature. All this power but nothing to understand. But that doesn’t mean you cannot marvel at the thought of our existence. The meaning. The ultimate question. Life goes on. Whether you find the answer or not. It carries on; relentless and unstoppable as it has always been. Unwavering, undulating, and, unhindered. We are merely an anomaly in the grand scheme of things.

You give meaning to life. Being alive is the meaning. Without you there is no life, nobody to experience it, and nobody to celebrate it. You are not the question. Far from it. You are the answer.

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