My Take On Interdependence.
Saturday Guest Blog
Not long ago, a friend of mine, a former girlfriend, sent me a birth announcement. She had recently delivered a baby girl, and I was on the mass e-mail blast she sent to broadcast the happy occasion. This friend had once been the locus of a fair amount of drama in my life, and the news of her daughter’s birth moved me in unexpected ways. Because it struck me quite deeply that this baby – who would one day have a fully-developed consciousness and inhabit an interesting world related to, but distinct from, the one I inhabit – would not exist had the drama not gone down exactly as it did.

Without getting tripped up in too many of the details, just know that after our breakup, this woman got involved with another man, who later broke up with her and got involved with my first cousin, with whom he had a baby girl. I, meanwhile, several jobs and moves and girlfriends later, hitched myself to an incredible woman who I met through a college friend, and produced a daughter of my own.
So, there were now three little girls, who would one day be women, whose existence depended on a set of circumstances that, at the time, had seemed to me to be messy, convoluted, even a little fucked-up. In fact, if the sequence of events had not played out exactly as it had, the chances that those specific sperm and egg cell combinations would have occurred were essentially nil, and had children been born of these unions, they would have been different children.
So then I started thinking that I (my entire universe) would not exist were it not for the precise backstory of my parents’ relationship. Their previous relationships, the moves they’d made in their lives, the decisions they’d made about leaving home, going to college, taking jobs, living in new cities — those deliberate or mindless choices — were the necessary preconditions of my birth.
And of course, the same could be said for them, and their parents. And for all of us. The very fact of our being in the world depends on an unimaginably dense sequence of events – pleasant and unpleasant, deliberate and half-baked – that took place in our parents’ (and grandparents’ and great-grandparents’) lives leading up to the odd and miraculous night on which we were conceived.
And projecting this line of thinking forward, is it not true that all the choices I’m making now could lead through some unpredictable, Rube Goldberg chain of events to the birth of a particular child in the future? Would it be going too far to say that in every moment we’re making decisions that will ripple forward in time and eventually lead to the sprouting of unique, conscious humans that would not otherwise have been born?
Yes, it might be going too far.
Or, it might not.

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