Patrick Morreale: Think you're one in a million? Actually, far rarer

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You may have stared down a red light at every intersection during your morning commute or rummaged through your sock drawer only to pull out the one sock with a hole and begrudgingly thought: “What are the odds?”

It turns out that those inconveniences don’t even begin to compare to the lottery win we all are.

According to a Business Insider article titled “The Odds of Being Alive,” the chance that you are who you are is inconceivably small. They estimate being alive is the astonishingly small percent of 1:10 to the power of 2,685,000 (10 with 2,685,000 zeros).


I have tried almost as many times to wrap my head around this minuscule number, but the more I think about it, the more I feel guilty about wasting the precious time I luckily happened to stumble upon. After all, I don’t want to lose every two million, six hundred and eighty-five-thousandths of a second I have.

But who is to dictate how you carve out your time? After all, it is your “lottery winnings,” so indulge in those shiny new shoes or a faster car. No one can live, see or feel the same way as you can. Like the winning numbers, life is a special combination of unique characters destined to be chosen by someone or something.

Imagine the beach. I know it’s far-fetched, but imagine the sun free from the antagonistic clouds. Imagine the waves moving the vast particles of sandy debris in and out of the cliff-like banks (what are the odds I live in Minnesota).

Now picture plucking out one grain of sand from the liquified peachy-colored pool. Every grain of sand appears identical to yours, but upon closer examination, none look alike. One may have slight indentations from where it has weathered off a larger rock or remnants of salty deposits left behind. Each grain has the same probability of ending up in your hand, yet we mostly focus on the stray grains in our hair and under our fingernails.

It seems “unfair” that humans focus on the negative and the “what-ifs.” We often squander our odds by prematurely categorizing the future.

“Going with the flow” like a grain of sand adrift in the ocean should be our new approach. Often we get the impression that the decisions we make in the present will set our odds in the future, but in reality, everything is subject to change if we make it happen. Not everything can be kept under our fingertips at all times.

Although it is hard to accomplish, sometimes having the confidence to leave things up to luck is the best we can do. It has proven to work for all of us in the past. Good luck.

Patrick Morreale is a junior at Century High School. Send comments on teen columns to Jeff Pieters, .

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