If you leave hydrogen alone for long enough, it’ll oversimplify and possibly misinterpret complicated science for the sake of a short story.
At the start of our universe’s story, certain laws of physics either didn’t exist, or didn’t matter, in the sense where they cannot be used to understand what exactly went on.
From the Big Bangs residual radiation, quarks formed, resulting in other subatomic particles forming, such as protons and neutrons, which bound together to form the first atoms, Hydrogen and Helium.
After the universe cooled, electrons were able to bind those atoms and, through unregulated trial and error, eventually resulted in atoms we know and love, such as carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen.
If you leave hydrogen alone for long enough, it becomes a bunch of atoms.
If you leave atoms alone for long enough, they become a bunch of molecules.
If you leave molecules alone for long enough, they become organic molecules.
If you leave organic molecules alone long enough, they become unicellular life.
If you leave unicellular life alone long enough, it will become multicellular life.
If you leave multicellular life alone long enough, it becomes different species.
If you leave different species alone long enough, they become apes.
And if you leave apes alone long enough, they become humans.
If you leave hydrogen alone for long enough, it will invent religion.
If you leave religion alone long enough, it will think of reasons to kill other people.
Maybe religion is why we have hydrogen at all, maybe God really did work behind the scenes and created every quark you see in matter.
Does it matter?
It doesn’t matter.
Or at least, it shouldn’t.
It shouldn’t change the way you live your life. If someone believes in God they should be good to everyone they meet, and if someone doesn’t believe in God they should STILL be good to everyone they meet.
Every other person you meet is just self aware hydrogen arranged differently.
If you leave hydrogen alone for long enough, it becomes self aware.
Some hydrogen will like this more than others. We actually made up terms for what it’s called when hydrogen likes its existence, it’s called “happy”, which hydrogen that doesn’t like its existence is deemed “unhappy”.
Most of us, being self aware hydrogen, fall somewhere in the middle, we’re not always happy or unhappy, we’re just ‘okay’ most of the time.
Let’s backtrack here. Throughout your life, you’re just a series of dying and regenerating cells.
Cells are a bunch of atoms.
Atoms are a bunch of protons, neutrons and electrons.
Protons and neutrons are a bunch of quarks (electrons are their own variety of subatomic molecule).
So where does it stop?
Where does it start?
What layer of ‘you’ is the most ‘you’?
Are you a bunch of quarks?
Are you a bunch of protons?
Is what you call ‘you’ just located in your brain?
Sometimes it’s comforting to remember we’re all just different types of hydrogen, bouncing around in a universe we don’t understand, but most of time, it’s really terrifying.
If you leave hydrogen alone for long enough, it’ll form planets, universe, galaxies, life itself, but eventually, it’ll burn itself out.
Eventually, given enough time, every reaction in the universe will end, and all of this will fade away into heat, leaving no trace of anything that any human has said, done, or thought. All will be forgotten, and all there will be nothing left.
Given a long enough timeline, the mortality rate goes up to 100%, and the importance of everything we spend all day doing goes down to 0%.
If you leave hydrogen alone for long enough, it has an existential crisis about its own existence, and will need to get a cold beer from the fridge to calm down.
It might still be stressed, however, and may need another one after that.
Maybe a third.
Hmmmm, that’s not working, maybe something stronger. Whiskey, perhaps? Vodka? Both in one drink? Would that make it Vhiskey or Wodka?
If you leave hydrogen alone for long enough, it can become addicted to alcohol.
But, if you don’t leave an alcoholic alone, they can stop having problems with alcohol.
Not unlike how, if you leave hydrogen alone, it’ll combine with other particles and atoms, becoming something entirely new.
You may be thinking, “I just read that all that I know and love will fade into heat, collapse, and none of this may have mattered at all, for even a moment! Why would I bother trying to change or be better? What am I against all that?”
The answer is everything.
You’re a bunch of changed hydrogen atoms that have sentience.
You can make your own choices, live your own life, and decide what you want to make of the time you have.
It doesn’t matter if your life matters, what matters is that you make the most of it while you can, because the day will come when you can’t.
Most of us don’t want to waste our one shot at sapience working for meager wages from corporate overlords, and should strive to find a way around that.
If you leave hydrogen alone for long enough, it’ll burn in every star we can see from our little planet, changing and becoming something new.
Now, we can’t change inside the heart of a star and merge with protons, (because, well, death), but we can change ourselves, everyday, with little things.
Some changes, like reactions, cost energy, some produce energy, some store energy, just like reactions can store, produce, or use energy.
One thing is for sure, most of the time, the end products in a reaction are altered when compared to the original, and are no longer the same as they were before.
If a bunch of subatomic particles can do something like that by themselves, you can get off your lazy ass and be productive, too.
If you leave hydrogen alone for long enough, it will form words.
If you leave words alone for long enough, they will become sentences.
A sentence is really just a bunch of words, which, when paired together, have a whole new meaning.
Enough sentences, and you can get your point across in a story.
Enough stories, and you can make a book, with a lot more meaning than individual sentences, words, or even letters.
Not unlike how, if you pair particles together, they become atoms, and if you pair atoms together, they become molecules, and so on.
These particles, atoms, molecules, may not have a ‘purpose’ on their own, but when working with others, they might even become something as weird and amazing as a human being one day.
Maybe it’s not that you don’t have a purpose, it’s just that you haven’t been around the right circumstances for you to discover it yet.
Sometimes, though, if you leave hydrogen alone long enough, it’ll grab a bottle of beer, watch itself change inside a million little fires in the night sky, and be at peace with where it is now.
If it’s lucky.