A couple of months ago, I received an e-mail from the World Wildlife Foundation letting me know that they were running a competition to celebrate their 50th anniversary. The premise was simple; to produce an original film, up to a maximum of two minutes on the theme: "Life. Nature. You. Make the Connection".
Well, I say simple, but how to actually represent such a theme in an original and engaging manner in under 120 seconds was tricky. And viewing some of the early entries I realised that the standard was immensely high. There are some truly gifted film makers in the world.
Purely by chance, however, I stumbled across a quote from the infamous science-loving futurist Sir Arthur C Clarke. He stated that 'behind every man now alive stands 30 ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living'. It was quite a timely and pertinent find, for as the world's population sprints past the 7 billion mark, it means that 210 billion humans have walked the earth during its lifetime. And it was at this point I found that a fascinating reality was becoming apparent.
Scientists believe that each one of us has ten thousand billion, billion atoms in our lungs. That's a one with twenty two zeros after it. Just in our lungs. In one breath. So, every breath from every person since the dawn of history contained atoms. Atoms that were part of them. And now, hundreds, thousands and millions of years later those atoms are now in your lungs. In fact, your whole body consists of the atoms that once existed in every human that ever lived. If you ever thought you weren't special, think again. Because you're Boadicea, Cleopatra, Henry Fifth, Isaac Newton, Einstein. In fact, try this. Think about your hero; the person that motivates, inspires and causes you to reflect. Now consider the reality; he or she is actually part of you. Not in some abstract metaphysical way. Really physically part of you.
But, of course, we are so much more than that because life on earth is not just about humans. Your whole body consists of the atoms that once existed in every living thing, animal or otherwise, since the world began. Which means you're coral, forest, leopard, whale, orang-utan, your great, great grandfather's dog, my great, great grandfather's dog.
The truth is that there is an endless list of what lived before you which is now part of you. And an endless list of what will live beyond you which you will become part of. You, therefore, really are everything and we, therefore, really are one. And for me, that's a mind blowing concept. Nature has guaranteed us all a timeless unity that we constantly forget is there. In fact, at the base atomic level, which is the only ever true constant in life, we are all exactly the same. Knowing that there's a bit of Aristotle in me makes me feel...inspired. In the same way Jimi Hendrix makes me feel creative.
"Life. Nature. You. Make the Connection"; inspiration found. Now all that remained was to fit it in to an 2 minute film!