I am a lucky man. At least, that is what
scientists tell me. One astronomer, Peter Ward, speculated in his book
"Rare Earth" that there are no more than a dozen places in the entire
universe where it would be possible for humans and carbon based life to
exist. He points out that in the center of the universe, the radiation
levels are too intense for life to survive. Only at the outer edges of
the universe would radiation be sufficiently reduced for a world like ours
to develop. He says we are lucky, because we are in the milky way
galaxy on the outer rim of the universe, and as far as we know, this is the
only planet where life definitely exists. Billions of dollars have
been spent on studying the far reaches of space, and as yet, we seem to be
the only lucky ones.
Just how lucky are we? Well, if our planet was any closer to the sun,
it would burn up in searing heat, and if it were farther from the sun, earth
would become a frozen planet - a ball of ice hurtling through space.
Just luck? I don't think so.
We have an atmosphere that contains approximately twenty percent oxygen -
just enough to support animal life, and we have plants that take in carbon
dioxide, and regenerate it to form more oxygen for us to breathe which keeps
us alive. Just luck? I don't think so.
We have an atmosphere just thick enough to protect us from harmful x-rays
and other forms of ionizing radiation from the sun and outer space.
Just luck? I don't think so.
Scientists tell me a small double helix of nucleic acids called DNA encodes
the information that determines my genetic destiny. That DNA packs a
whopping punch. It's a genetic cookie cutter that determines every
physical characteristic of who I am. Every cell in my body contains a
complete set of genetic information in my chromosomes, and the dimensions of
one complete set of chromosomes is so tiny it wouldn't even fill the space
in the eye of a needle. It's spectacular nanoengineering that boggles
the mind. Just luck? I don't think so.
Neuroscientists tell me my brain has trillions of
neurons wired together in such a manner that I have infinite capacity to
store information in my brain, and most amazing of all, I have the gift of
consciousness. I am aware of myself, my place in the world and apart
from the world. I can actually think and create. Just luck?
I don't think so.
So much for what scientists say about how lucky I am.
I have a different way of measuring whether I am a lucky person. Let's
go down my personal lucky list:
1. I had the privilege of being born in a place
and time in which I had the personal freedom to live my life as I pleased.
I didn't need to ask the king, the sheriff of Nottingham, the local warlord,
or the dictator of the decade for permission to live my dreams.
2. I had the privilege of receiving a college
3. I had the privilege of going to medical school
and become a physician.
4. I had the privilege of becoming a board
5. I had the privilege of becoming a retina vitreous surgeon, and was
able to fight against blindness caused by cataracts, retinal detachment,
diabetes, and ocular trauma.
6. I had the privilege of living in a country
which protects freedom of speech.
7. I had the privilege of living in a country
which protects freedom of religion.
8. I had the privilege of serving my country for
five years in the U.S. Navy.
9. I had the privilege of living in Puerto Rico
and sailing in the Caribbean for five years.
10. I had the privilege of having a great wife.
11. I had the privilege of having two great
12. I had the privilege of working overseas in
Panama, Puerto Rico, Kenya, Liberia, and Saudi Arabia.
13. I had the privilege of learning to speak and
read French, Spanish, English, and Arabic.
14. I had the privilege of owning five Land Rover
Defenders - dream machines that have taken me outback and beyond in the
deserts of Arabia and Australia.
15. I had the privilege of sailing around the
world on my twelve meter catamaran Exit Only for the past eleven years.
16. After a car accident, I had the privilege of
receiving transfusions of seven units of blood, and I didn't get hepatitis
or AIDS from the transfusions.
17. After breaking five ribs, two legs, one
shoulder blade, and puncturing one lung, I am still living my dreams ten
18. I had the privilege of studying tropical
medicine and performing my internship at Gorgas Hospital in the Panama Canal
19. I had the privilege of surviving the largest tsunami of the last
century, and neither I nor my yacht received a single scratch.
20. I had the privilege of sailing the Singapore
Straits without getting struck by lightning, while five other yachts were
struck by lighting at the same time and place.
21. I had the privilege of sailing under the
noses of the pirates of the Malacca Straits and the Gulf of Aden without a
22. I had the privilege of visiting fifty
countries around the world.
23. I had the privilege of having sufficient
financial resources to live many of my dreams.
24 I had the privilege of writing five books.
25. I had the privilege of having twenty-eight
web sites in all stages of development, called the positive web ring.
26. I had the privilege of having a personal
relationship with God based on love, and when I talk to God, I have the
privilege of calling him Father.
This list is getting very long.
So what do you think? Am I a lucky man? My
mother doesn't believe in luck. She tells me I am blessed, and I'm
inclined to agree with her.