My First Existential Crisis


Little Vivian was walking with her mother. Her tummy rumbled and grumbled. She was hungry.

Vivian thought about her hunger. It was quite amazing that her digestive system could tell her brain that it needed sustenance. It was a language of electric signals and shifting neurons, yet she could interpret them better than any written or verbal cues.

She then thought about how all her component elements had to be so precisely calibrated to her environment. It was only thousands of years of evolution that formed the optimally functioning human she was today. One evolutionary misstep and she might not exist at all.

It was astounding to Vivian that her entire self was working together with a surprising amount of harmony. Why were the molecules being so compliant when there was so little stability inherent in the universe? Doesn’t everything decay into entropy?

Vivian realized that she was made out of atoms. None of these atoms were alive. Yet, they all operated as a cohesive unit to form something that IS alive. To what extent was she truly “living”? On a subatomic level she was nothing but a bunch of particles which, against all preconceptions of thermodynamic law, united for a similar cause of keeping Vivian together.

Vivian’s thoughts turned to thinking. She was a conglomerate of unthinking atoms pondering themselves. Surely being aware of this paradox was enough to prove that her mind was worth something more than cerebral tissue.

Every single one of these atoms had been many things before. Tall mountains, vast oceans, the oxygen she breathed in and the carbon dioxide she breathed out. Dying stars. Swirling nebulae.

As a bundle of atoms that incomprehensibly worked together to keep her alive, she was not sure what to do. What could she do, but watch all the other physical manifestations of molecules go by? Was there a reason to do anything else?

Vivian’s mother bought her an ice cream cone.

She was not hungry any more.


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