The Cambrian Explosion

From Wikipedia:

The Cambrian explosion was the seemingly rapid appearance of most major groups of complex animals around 530 million years ago, as evidenced by the fossil record. This was accompanied by a major diversification of other organisms. Before about 580 million years ago, most organisms were simple, composed of individual cells occasionally organised into colonies. In the following 70 million to 80 million years, the rate of evolution accelerated by an order of magnitude, and the diversity of life began to resemble today’s.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Michael (mx5tx)

A half billion years ago, the only living things on Earth were, generally, pond scum. Life had been around for billions of years in the form of very simple living things, but evolution had ground to a halt. Nothing changed for a long, long, long, long time.

Then suddenly, some sort of event occured that scientists call “The Cambrian Explosion.” In the next 70 million years – an exceptionally short period of time, in terms of the history of the Earth – the number of species exploded. You had little critters, not just algae. You had trees, bushes, insects, all kinds of animals. And we have no idea why the jump occurred from single-celled pond scum to scurrying critters. None. Darwin said this event was the big, big, BIG hole in this theory. Some freak event happened and everything that’s come since originated from that funky timeframe.

Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection is taken as fact by most people. I do; to me, even if you believe in God Darwin makes sense. God’s complex enough to design evolution, I think. But even Darwin said the Cambrian Explosion cast some doubt against his theory of evolution. Life had dribbled along for eons without any change, then BOOM! Big change happened in a short period of time. Mutation must have exploded beyond any reasonable or possible level to make the Cambrian explosion occur.

Here’s my question: do most of us have a moment of Cambrian explosion in our lives? In my case, it happened when I read (completely by accident) Rich Dad, Poor Dad. It’s not that I was stupid about money – I had plenty of savings, I was making a lot of money and I was living relatively frugally (albeit with the almost obligatory-excessive Manhattan lifestyle in regards to social life). But I suddenly had a flash of inspiration: the goal was not to maximize my income from my job so I could maximize my spending, the goal was to maximize my LIFE by making my income sufficient to cover my expenses for the forseeable future.

That’s no small achievement, and to this day I would thank Kiyosaki for that insight. But that insight was driven by an external force, and I never would have found it without reading that book. Dumb story: why did I buy Rich Dad, Poor Dad? Because I had a child on the way and I searched on amazon for “finance for dads.” All I wanted was tips on 529s and similar things. I didn’t ever consider that the greatest gift I could provide my son was a mom and a dad who were financially independent and no burden on their kids, even though that’s probably the greatest gifts MY parents have given my brother and me.

Most of us do have a Cambrian explosion in us; a moment when some dumb chance (or divine intervention if you’re so inclined) strikes us and causes a staggering change in state. Make sure you’re open to it, ready for it and willing to accept it – even if things were working before and you don’t see the need for the change.