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This is a guest post by AshlieRene Gonzales. She is an Oregon-based internationally traveling photographer and cinematographer. You can visit her website at The Reason Record.


In that vast stretch of darkness,
Absolute nothingness
Before life,
I was a possibility.
A probability of genes.
It is not that twenty-three-year-old me
Was predetermined,
My current and future thoughts,
But rather
The successful genes
Of my human and animal ancestors
Randomly shuffled into place,
And reborn
Into my species current moment
On the timescale.
Ready to learn to crawl
And soon stand
And walk
Through this brief
Experience of life.
Awakened cosmic chemistry.
Subject to all influences,
Sharp and soft objects
Received by my senses.
Crying in pain,
Laughing in happiness.
But quickly
Building a story
And a forever growing character
To call myself.
Random events,
And coincidental happenings,
Landing favorable to my existence,
Shaping the information
In my mind
And my thoughts,
Ultimately influencing my behavior
For the duration of my life,
As a conscious carrier of ancient genes.
My perception of the world,
My experiences of attachment,
Human knowledge and technology,
They have brought me
To this current moment
Of my conscious self.
To think deeply
About such things
As well as understand them,
Is what I have found to be
The only way
To work through
This blurry,
Often inaccurate
Image of the world,
Coming in
Through truly limited human senses.
It sets selfish desires
And emotions aside.
It is a way
To step outside of fear
And into our grown-up pants.
Knowledge has,
And will always,
Conquer fear.
It destroys bad ideas,
Born in intellectual darkness and superstition
Throughout our early centuries.
This here,
This is it.
In this current place in time,
Twenty-three-year-old me,
Surrounded by dark oceans,
Full of water-breathing-life,
Deep forests,
Countless millions of species of insects,
Singing birds,
Roaring wind
And lightning,
Animals of the sea and land,
Growing to sizes
Embraced by the ancient dinosaurs.
Technologically enabled
Life-saving procedures
And medicines.
Witnessing it here,
From the rock
That birthed it all.
Realizing the chemical connection
Of all things.
I cannot fathom
A way to see the world
In a more exceedingly beautiful light,
Than this,
Of what our interrogation of the universe
Has shared with us.
I cannot bring myself
To fall back
Into unenlightened fear
And self-obsessed driven hopes.
I will not entertain
The sad human desire
To live and die
Above all other living organisms.

So come quietness again,
As it will.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.