Thursday, May 22, 2014

I am the .1 percent

I've been thinking about this month's challenge along the lines of chance meetings, amazing coincidences and seemingly random events that turn out to be not-so-random.

The idea of DNA comes to mind. Every cell in our body contains DNA, which contains instructions and information to re-create itself and build whatever the body needs to function. It's like a master blueprint that contains all our biological traits.  When the cell reproduces, it has to pass all of this information on to its "daughter cells".

Putting aside how amazing it is that two cells have enough information to reproduce and grow into an actual human being, and about 90% of the time a fertilized egg will "get it right" to combine all the DNA and in roughly 9 months produce a healthy, living baby….


There are approximately 7 billion people alive on earth right now. If you examined a cell from any 2 random people on earth and looked at their DNA, you'd find they are 99.9% the same. But that 0.1% can represent over 3 million specific differences between the two people's genomes. And every time a child is born, that child gets a mixed combination of genetic information from their parents and sometimes creates a "mutation" or two all their own.

Where does that story lead for me?  I can't help wondering how many different versions of "me" could have been, between the DNA of my parents. All the versions of my husband that could have been.  Would we have fallen in love if we were maybe a thousandth of a percent different?  I think about my 2 sons – all the factors that had to fall into place to create these wonderful human beings.

All at once I feel connected to every person on Earth, thinking we are 99.9 percent alike.  But at the same time I know I am somewhat "alone" because of that 0.1 percent! I will never meet anyone exactly like me even if I could know every living person and live to be 1000 years old.

Suddenly 0.1 becomes larger and heavier than 99.9 – between you and me.


  1. Wow Kate, what a perspective! I guess the small things really do make a tremendous difference.

  2. Thanks Lisa :-) Diane's VP9 piece "It's in the DNA" comes to mind, too. The fact that human and chimpanzee DNA is 99% identical just blows my mind. Amazing to think how much of our human identity is found in that crucial 1%

  3. I love the way one thing leads us to think of to another, seemingly completely different, but there are always connections!