10 things I learned about being human watching Jurassic Park 3D with my 10 year old self

jurassic park t rex
1) Twenty years ago, I entered Jurassic Park with a child’s imagination. There was no separation between theater and jungle world. It looked real. It felt real. Two decades of memory and dreams recorded the story as a fully dimensioned sensory and emotional immersion. As an adult watching Steven Spielberg’s 3D redux, there is no flattening, no muting of the experience. This is time travel. This is magic, because I’m watching my favourite movie again for the very first time.

2) John Williams’ musical score sends me soaring with an emotional rise heightened by layers of memory… It’s 7:30AM at an Ottawa high school band practice, and I’m playing the flute part of the score. With sudden joy, I realize I’m learning to take myself, with my own hands, to the same peaks of pleasure I’d thought only others could carry me.

3) Malcolm’s musings, mere gibberish to my 10 year old self, now echo my own hard-won philosophical conclusions. Shit, taking him at his word could have saved me 20 years! But no, I’ve worked even harder to preserve (and integrate) Grant’s knee-weakening wonderment at seeing the brachiosaurus. Malcolm and his pessimism can stay in the Jeep. True wisdom can only be found off-road, when you follow your imagination into the fresh cool grass beyond.

4) Watching Nedry’s embryo shaving cream bottle buried in the preserving mud, my 10 year old self was ecstatic. The story wouldn’t end with the movie! Here was a way to more, and more, always more! And there was more, but like The Matrix, the two sequels blasphemed the original. I know now that life is a moment, one breath, one bag of popcorn – by the bottom you’re parched and your lips are chapped, and you wish wish wish you had savoured every kernel with the same exaltation of the first buttery bliss.

5) Muldoon and his knee socks will ever and always be one sexy beast.

6) Nestled in the theatre – like Grant, Lex, and Tim in their tree – with my own younger brother and hero father, I felt the same comfortable confidence in the safety of our eternity. I feel a pang of grief for my 10 year old self. She had find out that Lex was right, that sometimes our heroes leave us and fly to head new stories. And we must learn to rescue our own. Because, ultimately, ‘happily ever after’ is a dynamic state of being.

7) After watching Jurassic Park countless times and reading Michael Chrichton’s (masterpiece) book twice, enough time has gone by to corrupt source memory and the 3D version is a 3-dimensional conglamorate of present experience and two mixed/matched histories. The archtypal characters critizied in the first movie suddenly become fully fleshed internally/eternally contradicting human beings. Male/female (Lex/Tim) complexities and layers of interwoven alternate plot points transform the experience into a dream-like back and forth between conflicting realities. Like Malcolm, Carl Jung was a fool. Categories are butterflies pinned under a frame. “Life finds a way”, but only as undulating change through time.

8) I feel a certain envy for my 10 year old self. Her child’s brain easily gestalted over any breaks in continuity and plot/character inconsistencies. My adult brain, so trained and practiced in picking through patterns, finds suspended disbelief harder and harder, especially being a writer. I can’t help missing my ability to commit to flowing through a story purely by faith.

9) To my 10 year old self, Laura Dern’s Ellie was the epitamy of womanhood: intelligent, beautiful, funny, and kind. As I fell in love with my husband 10 years later, to Laura Dern’s husband Ben Harper’s song “When She Believes”, it was a reawakening of eternities. When my ideal woman’s love story fell apart with Harper, I was forced to give up another grasp at idealist innocence. But watching this movie reminded me of all I’ve gained. I may not have Dern’s legs, but I live, then and now, by Dr. Satler’s optimistic curiousity. I own the power to create my own stories and sustain them through time. I will never stop believing, in my loves, in my heroes, and in myself.

10) Ritual, by definition, strengthens through time. A movie theater, a bag of popcorn, my escape into another world for a full (if quantized) lifetime, gives as much pleasure to my 30 year self as it did when I was 10 years old. Though the intellectual experience has evolved, the emotions are as rich and savoury as ever. So get yourself a center seat, turn off your cellphone, and keep close your own most precious rituals. And don’t ever be afraid to give yourself over fully to their magic. Your inner child will thank you!

jurassic park colouring book pic