“Life finds a way,” says Jeff Goldblum as the wry, arch, very Goldblum-y character Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park. He’s referring to the naïve notion that the scientists actually have a handle on population control in the Dino-park, that they can somehow put a leash on the dinosaurs’ breeding habits, which would not only be futuristic science, but also make for a very short, boring movie (read: way less sexy, spooky Goldblum running away from teeth-gnashing T-Rexes in his tight black jeans. Not that I’ve considered this image much at all. Nope).
I think of this line whenever I’m walking around Boston, or wandering through any city area, and glimpse the spectacular collision between the natural world and the urban elements gamely trying to assert their dominance. You will lose concrete, brick, iron, and glass, I say silently. You are intergalactic interlopers in this planet’s perspective, forged from materials that might have come from parts of this blue sphere, but bear no more resemblance to those original organic pieces.
It’s a “we were here first” mentality I subscribe to the green, vining, growing, flowering, pulsing, pushing things propelling themselves up, out of the earth and onto whatever available structure is in reach. I subscribe this same attitude to indigenous peoples and most non-domesticated animals like deer, bears, and hawks, but not squirrels—those bastards were dreamed up in a lab by some evil syndicate who designed them with cartoonish cuteness in order to distract us from their pure vileness. In short, I root for the natives.
I’m heartened by watching life spread itself across brick walls, drape itself over concrete slabs in a loving, strangling embrace. I’m thrilled to see a wrought-iron fence engulfed in twining, twisting vines like arteries sent from a beating heart in search of oxygen. I’m cheered by happening upon flowers proudly thrusting out of a slit in the pavement, clinging to a light pole, or scaling the side of a building tucked into alleyway. I nod.
After all, reclamation is your right. It’s as if to say, we’ve had enough of your co-habitation bullshit, humans; you’re not holding up your end of the bargain. We’re taking back what’s always been ours and we’re going to look pretty spectacular doing it. I get it; you’ll have no argument from me. I’m not about to getting into a pissing contest with a consciousness that’s older, wiser, and a lot more tenacious than all of us.
“Life finds a way,” says Dr. Malcolm. He means it as an omen, a red flag, a bit of necessary foreshadowing for the sake of a movie about overriding nature. In the real world, I prefer to view the persistent lurk of living matter in and around and over and through our man made structures no matter our efforts to curb, contain, and eradicate as an outstretched hand, a peace offering. It’s a call to relish and revere the natural world; it’s a chance to check ourselves and pay some respect now that we’re actually starting to pay attention.