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The Persistence of Life

Written by Zoe Weil | 2 Comments | Published on October 29, 2012 | Filed under Humane Connection
The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Humane Education website at http://humaneeducation.org/blog/2012/10/29/the-persistence-of-life/
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Image copyright Zoe Weil.

Growing up in Manhattan, I always marveled at the capacity of nonhuman life to thrive in the city. For example, there was a tree a few blocks from our apartment building that had grown from a dark pit underground, up through a tight sidewalk grating, into a fully leaved and impressive canopy.

Then there were the pigeons. Pigeons are otherwise known as rock doves, originally native to wild rocky cliff regions of Europe, Northern Africa, and Asia. I’ve seen them only a few times in the wild and never very many at one time. But they’re ubiquitous in big cities across the globe, where they’ve turned highrise window ledges into nesting sites. Some people don’t much like pigeons – calling them rats with wings (rats being another denizen of cities) – but I love them. I love their various coloring, the way their heads move as they walk, and their soothing coos.

When I was recently in New York City, performing my 1-woman show, I came upon a small puddle after a rain. Bathing in the puddle were sparrows and starlings (see photo). How sweet these little birds were, careful to avoid passersby, but quick to return to the puddle for their bath and then pick up the crumbs on the ground from people’s lunches and snacks.

Life is all around us, so pervasive and persistent. Grass seeds take root in specks of soil in cracks in the sidewalk. Winged maple leaves helicopter to the street and find themselves a sandy spot to grow; and come fall, you suddenly notice them because their autumn vermilion color stands out against the grey of the street. Those trees-to-be won’t grow beyond seedlings, of course, but they remain tenacious ‘til the end.

How amazing life is.

~ Zoe

Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education
Author of Most Good, Least Harm, Above All, Be Kind, and The Power and Promise of Humane Education
My TEDxConejo talk: “Solutionaries”
My TEDxDirigo talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach
My TEDxYouth@BFS “Educating for Freedom”

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About Zoe Weil

Zoe is the co-founder and president of the Institute for Humane Education She's the author of several books, including Most Good, Least Harm; Above All, Be Kind; and The Power and Promise of Humane Education. See her TEDx talk, "The World Becomes What You Teach": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5HEV96dIuY

Contact Zoe View all articles by Zoe Weil


lexie says:

Oh I love this! Thank you, Zoe for this lovely post – I often think I’m the only one out there (in the city, anyway) observing (& photographing) the “small” moments of nature prevailing in the face of their human environment. It reminds me of the line from Jurassic Park: “Life will not be contained. Life breaks free.” And even if those little city seedlings don’t grow into full fledged trees, they represent to me the hope for a more connected and peaceful world. Thanks again! ~ Lexie

Zoe Weil says:

Thanks for commenting on my post Lexie! And it was so great meeting you last night!!!