Survival of the fittest

I’ve been back from the Galapagos for a week now and still can’t shake off the thoughts of this pristine archipelago in the eastern Pacific. Friends have been asking me about the trip, what it was like out there. The other day I was explaining the Darwin connection to a friend, and how the Galapagos really is a “living laboratory of evolution”. I told her about the marine iguanas that have been on the islands for ten million years. To see them up-close and witness the evolution held so much fascination for me. How did these species survive all that has befallen our planet since its creation?

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” As I was paraphrasing this quote by Clarence Darrow – commonly misattributed to Darwin (you’ll see it printed on many a tourist shirt in the souvenir stalls of the Galapagos) – to my friend, a thought struck me: New York City is the urban equivalent of the Galapagos. Here in this Tower of Babel, amidst its concrete, skyscrapers and half-realized dreams, one can truly see evolution in action (or is it perhaps devolution?). For those who come to New York from elsewhere to make their home here, with no family and friends as a safety net, it really is the survival of the fittest. For here in New York, we are just like the animals and plants that came to the Galapagos all those years ago, floating on tree barks and trunks from the mainland. Some survived, taking firm root. Other less resilient species vanished.

That’s how New York feels to me: a constant fight to survive. On my good days I’m proud to have made it thus far, while eking my living doing what I love. So perhaps I’m fit enough. But if I give up the rat race and move away, will that mean I haven’t passed this very Darwinian test? Sometimes I wonder…

Blog Comments

Yeah, living in a big city does feel like a constant fight for survival. When I was in London I felt like living in a jungle. I moved to Shanghai now, 23 million people, and the beginning was a bit of a shock, better now that I'm slowly understanding the society and the language.

If you want to see Survival of the fittest may be you should go traveling around in Philippines. There you can see the real Survival of the fittest

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