[IPu] More from Heckler : We're All Winners in the Lottery of Life"l
We're all winners in the great lottery of life
a.. By Bill Kierath
May 25, 2006
I want to win Lotto. By myself. Not sharing it with others who will reduce my
I could pay off the house, buy a new car, go on holiday, set up the kids, quit
work, buy that weekender, buy a business and still have enough left to have no
worries for 20, 40 or 60 years.
Unfortunately, winning is one chance in several million, and, with my luck,
those odds are too great.
But I am here and I have just taken another breath.
My mother was born with about 800,000 immature eggs in her ovaries. Alas,
799,996 of my half brothers and sisters did not have their eggs mature, become
fertilised or survive. But mine and my sisters' were. So I started off life by
winning a 1 in 800,000 lottery.
My father was a healthy fellow who was sexually mature for about 60 years.
During his life he probably produced about 200 million sperm every day, for a
total of about 4,000,000,000,000. And only one of them was mine - all the
others were half brothers and sisters. The chance of my egg being fertilised
by my sperm is something like 1 in 3,200,000,000,000,000,000.
So already I'm feeling lucky.
And that is only the start. My father and mother each faced the same
improbable odds of being born. They then had to choose each other over all
other possible mates.
This same improbability extends and multiplies back generation by generation
to the very first cell division.
Consequently, the probability of being born is virtually zero. One would be
more likely to randomly collect the same grain of sand that had been discarded
50 years earlier on any one of Earth's beaches. But I was born against these
odds, and so was every human who has ever lived. Every dog, fish, plant and
microbe has arrived against similar odds.
It is a sobering thought that the slightest change in the circumstances of my
ancestral history would have almost certainly resulted in me missing out on
the privilege of living. Lucky for me that the sabre-toothed tiger chasing my
young forebear could not quite reach him/her on the branch of the tree all
those years ago.
Of course, there are those who say you make your own luck. Equally, there are
others who prefer to think luck is something in the lap of the gods. Pray
I prefer to think the numbers game really boils down to mathematics: the odds
are daunting - an ordinary Monday and Wednesday Lotto win is a 7
million-to-one shot; Powerball is in fact a 50 million-to-one chance. But
still we keep trying, a case of hope over experience.
So I am going to smile at the world because I am sharing it with winners. And
I am not going to worry about Lotto - that is too easy after what I have been
through to get here.
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