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Be a Leaf that knows…

“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree – Michael Crichton

This past weekend my family and I took a trip to the Redwood National Park here in California, and as I think back on the trip I can recall feeling incredibly small. As my family and I walked along the Lady Bird Johnson trail that lasted for about two miles surrounded nature’s beauty I felt this amazing feeling of peace wash over me. The Thing about being among the Redwoods is it is so quiet that I swear you could hear a pin drop. When I looked up at these trees I couldn’t help but wonder what it looked like before the many trails were created and some of the trees were cut down, although there are still thousands. I wanted to know each story behind every tree there, I wanted to know its history.

This week’s blog post is on Timeline by Michael Crichton. The story begins when a doctor is found in the desert with unexplainable injuries that lead to his death. A company Known as ITC tries to hide the truth of what happen in whatever way they can to protect their reputation and Edward Johnston finds that his sponsors know a great deal more about his archeological dig than he does. However, after Johnston goes missing following a visit to the project’s sponsors three of his researchers travel back in time six hundred years to 1357 France to rescue him. While the fourth researcher stays behind to wait for their return from the past.

The book was ok, but not great in my opinion. In certain areas, it seemed to drag on where it didn’t need to and I personally found the character of Chris Hughes a little annoying at times but other than that the book was overall a good read. In the book, the characters stress that without the past, there is no future which is true. Our entire life is based upon the actions someone else in the past. For instants, if your parents hadn’t met at the Starbucks around the corner on a such and such day you may not even be here right now. Or if the Wright brothers had never tried to fly, airplanes may not be what they are today. Basically, the idea is that everything that is happening now is based on a previous event.

Then why do we claim we can change history? The truth is that we can’t we can only move forward. we can, however, look at past events in life, learn from them and make new history, all while using the past as a reference point to look back on. Rafiki from the Lion King says it this way “the past can hurt. But the way I see it you can either run from it or learn from it.” The world doesn’t take the time to learn about history simply to know random facts, it takes the time to study in order to learn from it even if there is a lot of pain and suffering involved. The history of our world is not cookie cutter clean there is a lot of hardship and heartbreak found as well within our timeline along with times of happiness and peace. The question then arises what happens when three fictional archaeologists are sent back to 1357 on a rescue mission in a time of war. Well, a lot not so great road blocks happen which takes them on a roundabout adventure throughout France and all of it is happening with a time limit attached.

The timeline does a nice job of creating a separation, but also a likeness between 1357 and the modern world.While the book is able to show the differences in lifestyle within the two different time periods, it also is able to point out that both were making technological advances in their own way. There is a moment in the book where all the characters have just arrived in 1357 in the middle of the forest. Chris believes there is something odd about his surroundings, but he can’t put his finger on it. Then he figures it out the forest is almost completely silent except for the chirping of the birds and just like that, he feels a measure of peace come over him. In this moment the book presents an important question about our current world we live in and the past. Are we as a population so accustom to technical advancements that we forget to unplug and live without them? I would dare to say we are…

The movie by the same name is a great representation of Michael Crichton ‘s work if not better. The movie cuts down on what I believe in some of the more unnecessary content like the lengthy explanation of the science behind time travel. While it adds to the almost absent, but sill present love story in the book, this it does successfully without taking away from the actual story.

In the end, the lesson is simply to make your own history, don’t let the actions of someone else define the future. Instead, let the actions of the past be a guide to help you through.

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