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I've had that shining sense of wonder wash over me only a few times in my life. The last was in reading The Ancestor's Tale; there was a bit about imagining the line of mtDNA across space rather than time, with me holding my mother's hand, she holding her mother's, and so on, back up the line of my ancestors. I envisioned them lined up beyond the horizon, past the convergence point of my local ethnic group, my species, and so on. I imagined my cousins near and distant making it not just a line, but a tree, a tree encompassing, if not all life, then most of the eukaryotes that ever lived, including everything from my cranky cat to the flies by the dumpster.

I'd never imagined anything quite so intense. Later, I thought to myself that this, then, must be what a religious experience feels like.

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