Individual Uniqueness

Xvxry pxrson is important

Xvxn though my typxwritxr is an old modxl, it works vxry wxll — xxcxpt for onx kxy. You would think that with all thx othxr kxys functioning propxrly, onx kxy not working would hardly bx noticxd; but just onx kxy out of whack sxxms to ruin thx wholx xffort.

You may say to yoursxlf — Wxll, I’m only onx pxrson. I’m not vxry spxcial, so I won’t makx a diffxrxncx in thx world. No onx will noticx whxthxr I’m hxrx or not. But that’s not trux becausx socixty nxxds activx participation by xvxry onx to thx bxst of his or hxr ability. So, thx nxxt timx you think you arx not important, rxmxmbxr my old typxwritxr. You arx a spxcial pxrson.

I don’t want to be accused of straining your eyes, so I’m changing typewriters to make the text easier to read. Although I’m not the author of the typewriter story, which has been around for quite some time, I wanted to share it with you. It’s just to make a point about how unique — how special — you are.

Are we really special? Well, let’s use my writing as an example. Although I would like to think it is unique, isn’t it true that if we were to place a chimpanzee in front of a typewriter and have it randomly pound away at the keys, it would eventually type one of my articles? Granted, it may take billions of years to do so by chance, but it proves my writing is not unique. Don’t you agree?

I hope you didn’t agree because if you did, you were wrong. I am about to show that a chimpanzee could NEVER create one of my articles by chance. Are you ready? Hold on to your seat because we have a dizzying ride ahead!

What would be the chances of a chimpanzee typing this sentence??? If you look at the sentence closely, you will find that it is made up of 65 characters and spaces (including the three question marks). So, what are the chances of the chimp typing the first letter of the sentence (capital ‘W’) correctly? The answer is 1 in 50. Why 50? Because there are 26 letters, 10 numerals, punctuation marks, and symbols on the keyboard.

What are the chances of the chimp typing the entire first word (‘What’) correctly? Since he has only a 1 in 50 chance for each of the spaces, the odds would be 1 in 50x50x50x50, or 1 in 50 to the fourth power, which is 1 in 6,250,000. Can you see where this is going? The odds of typing the entire 65-character-long sentence correctly, then, is 1 in 50 to the 65th power.

You have probably guessed that 50 to the 65th power is a B-I-G number. But how B-I-G is it? Well, according to physicist George Gamow, as explained by Guy Murchie in his brilliant book The Seven Mysteries of Life, the number is 1,000 times greater than the total number of vibrations made by all the atoms in the universe! Are you getting the picture? To bring it into sharper focus, realize that atoms vibrate about a quadrillion times a second and there are quintillions of them in a single particle of dust!

No, a chimp could never randomly type one line of this article, much less the entire article. Of course, the object of this exercise is not to discuss my articles and me, but to vividly show how unique each of us is. The things you do and say are your ‘articles.’ They will never be repeated. That’s why the brothers Edmond and Jules Goncourt wrote in their journal on April 15, 1867, “Nothing is repeated, and everything is unparalleled.” You are unparalleled, unmatched, truly unique, very special, and will never be repeated.

Here is an interesting paradox. You are unique only in relation to the rest of humanity. In other words, if nothing existed other than yourself, you would no longer be unique; you would merely be. Our uniqueness arises only when we have others to compare ourselves to. There is a dichotomy to life. On the one hand we are unique; on the other hand, we are just one small piece of the big picture.

Just because we are one drop in the ocean of life, we must never mistakenly believe that we are insignificant. Every drop counts. This point was beautifully expressed by author/artist James Gurney who wrote and illustrated Dinotopia, which recently appeared on TV as a mini-series. In the fictional land of Dinotopia, the inhabitants live by a code of 12 principles, one of which is: “One Raindrop Raises the Sea.”

I’m sure Mother Teresa (1910 ~ 1997) never read Dinotopia; nevertheless, she believed in the above principle, for she said, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But if that drop was not in the ocean, I think the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”

Although we are just drops in an ocean, our roles in life are important. In the following poem, written by an unknown author, God explains how we can make a difference: “God said, “Let’s build a better world,” / and I said, “How? / The world is such a cold, dark place, / and so complicated now, / and I’m so afraid and helpless, / there’s nothing I can do!” / But God in all His wisdom said, / “Just build a better YOU!”

St. Francis De Sales (1567 ~ 1622) taught, “Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly.” One of the ways we can be that perfectly is to remember that most people hunger for recognition. They try to do their best daily and hurt when they are not recognized. Do we regularly express our thanks to family members, co-workers, friends and others for their help? Why not use our differences to uniquely express our gratitude? They make a difference in our lives, so let’s let them know they are appreciated.

Part of cherishing your own uniqueness is to delight in the diversity of others. We can have an impact on their lives merely by recognizing their right to be different. Like Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 ~ 1900), we need to say, “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”

Yes, we are unique, but so are all the days of our lives and the opportunities they bring. If we look for those opportunities, embrace them, and share them, we will create a better world. That’s why we are all important.

© Chuck Gallozzi
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