It was there for just an instant—a bright speck of light on the horizon.
I had been sitting, crossed-leg, my notebook on my knee, pen in hand. I looked up from my page–just for a moment—to take in the view. I was perched atop a great granite outcrop, high on a ridge.
My eyes swept over the landscape, from the mountains growing on the eastern horizon, and westward across the patchwork of farmland broken by green pine covering the ridges and ravines. And there it was. To the southwest, a flash of light.
There's a highway there—a four lane artery that stretches to the south. The light came from where the road bends, just before dropping into a valley and disappearing into the shade.
I watched the area for a few minutes and the flash of light did not repeat itself.
It was likely just the sun being reflected off a windshield.
I wondered at the odds of that happening: for me to see light reflected off a windshield more than 10 miles away.
First, what are the odds that 70 million years ago a plume of intrusive magma—destined to be granite—would force its way into a thick layer of basalt? And what are the odds that between 12 and 15 thousand years ago glacial floods would eat away that basalt, exposing the several granite monoliths? And what are the odds that I would be sitting on top of one of those monolithic outcrops at that exact moment? Astronomical. That's not to mention the fact that the sun was in the perfect position in the sky, given the angle of the car windshield. And let's not forget I looked up just in time to see it.
This bright flash was something miraculous.
But even more miraculous … you. What are the odds of you existing? It took billions of years for stars to create the elements that you are made of. The earth only existed for a billion years before recognizable cells came into existence. Another 3.5 billion years and this planet saw mammals. Modern anatomical humans have only been around for a quarter million years, and in that history you can find the genetic material that you are harboring inside all of your cells.
Imagine a single change to this sequence of events, a sequence that spans billions of years—an inconceivable amount of time. A single change could have changed everything.
If the chances of me seeing that light were astronomical, that makes the probability of your existence … cosmic.