What a turtle can tell us about life

Imagine an ocean. A big one. Maybe one as big as everything. In the ocean swims a single turtle. This turtle is the only life form in this infinitely-vast ocean. Upon the surface of the ocean floats a wooden ring — just wide enough that the turtle would be able to fit its head through, should the two ever come into contact.

What are the odds of this happening? The turtle surfacing for air, and its head slipping through the ring as it floats on the surface?

Imagine: Infinite ocean. A single turtle. A small wooden ring.

I don’t remember where I first encountered this idea, but it is something like this: the odds of you being here — of being alive — are about the same as this turtle and the ring making contact in an infinite ocean. In other words, they are very slim.

What do we call this?

I call this a miracle.

That is, from where I sit, what all of this is. A miracle.

It’s all too easy to get lost in the specifics of the day — coronavirus, the election, the plunging stock market, the division among us — and to lose sight of what is happening around us. Life is happening around us. This miracle that is almost impossible to fathom, even though it occupies every square inch of our lives every day.

Sure, there are things that we need to fight for and change. There are concerns that need addressing. This is all true. And, it all happens in this field — this wild and fascinating field — of life.

We are, after all, alive.

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