My son is now seven weeks old. He is beginning to roll over, grasp at objects, and produce a cacophony of baby sounds. He is the perfect blend of my wife and I. He looks like Hitler’s wet dream: a beautiful blend of a Scandinavian and an American w.a.s.p. gene pool of a bygone era. Blonde hair, ice-blue eyes, fair skin, and in the top 1% for height and weight. I sometimes have to convince myself that I didn’t sell my soul for the creation of this little creature.
He is the epitome of how inexplicably complex life is. His mother moved from Norway to the United States when she was 8 years old. She was the daughter of a Norwegian father, and an American mother from Illinois, who met by chance in the Caribbean. My parents are both of Northwestern European stock, whose families have been living in the U.S. since the early 19th century. They met at the same small college in southern Maryland which I too attended for my undergraduate degree. Kat and I met through a social media app, I moved across the country, we were engaged in the Coliseum in Rome, married in my favorite city of Annapolis, gave birth to this beautiful boy, and the rest is history.
That brief recap is the tip of the iceberg, of whose depth exceeds the realm of calculable probabilities. Countless generations of both sides of our families, with innumerable life-happenings, survival, and successful reproduction, which took place in order for Kat and I to exist, meet, and procreate. It is the most beautiful sequence of random events that I can ponder, and I do so quite often. It is strikingly easy to fantasize about how many trials and tribulations our ancestors must have hurdled in order to pass on their genes. We are so unbelievably lucky to be alive and to have such a happy, healthy baby.
I often picture Olyn in my shoes, and myself in my father’s, and so on until I reach Olyn’s great-grandfather. He lives next door to my father, is approaching 90 years old, and is one of four generations that meets on a regular basis. I can only hope that I will survive to see the same sequence of events take place in my own life. The successful rearing, assistance, and support of Olyn, his children, and his children’s children. How much joy, companionship, and love he must have been, and indeed still is the witness of. Fascinating doesn’t begin to describe how incredible his life must be to bear witness to those happenings.
I can only hope to live as purely, be as reliable, sustainably supportive, and a role model for my successors. Olyn is just the start, and we may have more children, and he may or may not have children of his own. For the time being, I feel as if I have fulfilled my biological responsibility to pass on my genes, and indeed the next generation is in good hands to do the same. Isn’t that the whole point of life? To pass on your genes so that your offspring can enjoy the same sensational existence that both you, and your long line of ancestors were gifted with? I am so unbelievably grateful that by chance, or providence, or both, that my genes and my gene pool will not dry up with my passing. It sounds selfish upon review, but I’m pretty sure that’s a hardwired evolutionary trait. Sorry, I’m not sorry.