Zygotes – Starting Ugly

This week I heard a wonderful talk by Julie Keir on mental health. It was full of wonderful vulnerability and touching honesty as well as very useful insights; a lady who certainly knew her stuff.

As I sat listening to Julie outlining behaviours and patterns of thinking that we all carry, she alluded to the fact that such patterns are never isolated moments, but rather have roots in past experiences and ways of thinking.

Roots—an interesting and challenging truth.

A couple of days before hearing Julie’s talk I was reading a book by Neil Cole who, in one place, spoke about the universality of all human life, whether you end up being a Hollywood movie star with the perfect shape, or an unknown misfit, he wrote, we all start life the same, as a zygote (as pictured above)

Zargote—our universal root

The Beautiful Ordinary

Zygotes are plain to look at but intricately complex. Unremarkable to stare at but unspeakably detailed and incomprehensibly beautiful. A zygote is me, it’s you, it’s Brad Pitt and Catherine Zeta Jones. It’s everyone you’ve heard of and everyone you’ll never likely hear of. It’s everyone you’ve envied and everyone you’ve pitied. We all start life the same, from the great and good to the criminal and wasteful, we all begin the journey as an unidentifiable zygote.

Zygotes aren’t pretty. No one shows pictures of zygotes after announcing their pregnancy. I’ve never received a framed photo of a zygote by any relative or friend ever to have had a child. But zygotes are you and they are me, they are our roots. It’s where we all began, it’s how we all once looked.

Irrespective of our status or intelligence, looks or ability, we are wonderfully complex, beautifully formed individuals. My worth, your worth, is not registered by contribution. It’s not weighed out in dollars or pounds. It’s not evidenced by ‘likes’ and compliments. It’s not immortalised by rich lists, tributary monuments, glowing obituaries or amount of friends. Our value is not determined by who we impact, what we build, who we know or what we write.

We are zygotes; wonderfully complex, intrinsically valuable

We are zygotes; mystifyingly beautiful, incomprehensibly awesome

We are zygotes; marvelously precious, uniquely individual

Value is not something we earn

God created each zygote, each wonderfully fascinating human, to hold unspeakable value in and of themselves. We are not waiting to become valuable in our next magnanimous act or sublime word, we are in fact already as valuable, as wonderful, as beautiful as we’ll ever be.

Value is not something you or I earn, it’s something we are.



Pete Goulding is one of our best cheerleaders and an honourary Activate man.  You may have met him at recent day events with us. It’s helpful that he is Rhiannon’s husband and he doesn’t seem to mind hauling, transporting and storing our Activate stuff!  Obviously, he isn’t just a husband and father he is a highly-regarded speaker in the northwest of England who loves preaching so much that he named his dog Spurgeon!

Read more of Pete’s articles here


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