Review: TRAVELS by Michael Crichton Review

I received this book as a gift from my advisor last fall semester or this past spring (I can’t remember), and it has truly changed my life a bit. I was thinking about making a video for this, but haven’t had time (this post was supposed to be published months ago – oops).

From the bestselling author of Jurassic ParkTimeline, and Sphere comes a deeply personal memoir full of fascinating adventures as he travels everywhere from the Mayan pyramids to Kilimanjaro.

Fueled by a powerful curiosity—and by a need to see, feel, and hear, firsthand and close-up—Michael Crichton’s journeys have carried him into worlds diverse and compelling—swimming with mud sharks in Tahiti, tracking wild animals through the jungle of Rwanda. This is a record of those travels—an exhilarating quest across the familiar and exotic frontiers of the outer world, a determined odyssey into the unfathomable, spiritual depths of the inner world. It is an adventure of risk and rejuvenation, terror and wonder, as exciting as Michael Crichton’s many masterful and widely heralded works of fiction. –

My advisor gave me this book toward the end of Fall semester I believe, or in the beginning of Spring semester my Junior year. We often get into conversations revolving around spirituality, intuition, mindfulness, open-mindedness, and direct experience. She is one of the few people I can often confide in when feelings of laziness and uncertainty of a “productive future” begin to plague me.

Although I derailed from finishing it for months, in actuality it took me 3 days to read. It could be finished in a shorter time than that, as it is about 370 pages.

This book has opened my eyes further to a number of general ideas, many of which I have been trying to start practicing on my own over the last year or so:

  • Purposeful Behaviour: it is very important to behave with intention. When I say this, or when I say to act purposefully, I don’t mean that there has to be some kind of grandiose meaning behind everything that you do. I definitely don’t mean that there has to be a grand outcome to everything either. All I am saying is that you should go about life observing actively.
  • Letting the Universe Work: it’s so hard, especially with the way things are here in our society demonizing non-action or anything less than a quick pace as lazy or not thought out. However, sometimes, it is best to just be. Let things be. Whether you realize it or not, over time things un-tangle themselves and work out the way they are intended to. This is a big theme here on Courtenay’s Beauty Box! Relax, breathe, and let things unfold as they are. Go beyond yourself and allow
  • Direct Experience: this was probably the most reassuring takeaway of them all. Instead of worrying that I am not getting the “correct” types of experiences I need in life, I look at all encounters as learning opportunities. Each and every thing you do each day teaches you a little something about yourself. From here on out, I am much more concerned with cultivating these direct experiences than getting the right experiences. After all, what is “right?”

Favourite passages

We start to walk, slowly. The bees slip away, one by one. In a few moments I am free of them, back on the trail. I was never stung. – pg. 135

In the end, the story of Mat and the villagers came to symbolize the trip to me. The village people had encountered a deer, and the deer stayed, and so they didn’t eat their favourite food anymore. That’s all. In short, where I would have struggled, the villagers simply accepted the situation and went on with their lives – pg. 137 – 138

…and the truth was, I had slept well, when I finally stopped worrying. – pg. 148

And that hysteria always goes away the instant we are willing to hear the answer. Even if the answer is what we feared all along….Hysteria accompanies an unwillingness to look at what is really going on; it promotes an unwillingness to look. We feel we are afraid to look, when actually it is non-looking that makes us afraid. The minute we look, we cease being afraid. – pg. 148

Bora-Bora shark story on pg. 150.

But I considered behavior purposeful, whether the purpose is acknowledged or not. Behavior is not random; it can be analyzed from the standpoint of purpose, it can be understood from the standpoint of purpose. –  pg. 282

‘And what’s really wrong with making them the problem’, I s – aid ‘is that you abdicate your own responsibility. Once you say some mysterious they are in charge, then you’re able to sit back comfortably and complain about how they are doing it. But maybe they need help. Maybe they need your ideas and support and your letters and your active participation. Because you’re not powerless, you’re a participant in this world. It’s your world, too.’ – pg. 292

This made me wonder if my ideas about the normal speed of psychological change might be incorrect. Perhaps we could accomplish massive change in seconds, if only we knew how. Perhaps we took so long only because we did it the wrong way. Or perhaps because we expected it to take so long. – pg. 309

And I think that this constant assault has made us pliable in a certain unhealthy way. Cut off from direct experience, cut off from our own feelings and sometimes from our own sensations, we are only too ready to adopt a viewpoint or perspective that is handed to us, and is not our own. – pg. 348

The entire postscript: “Postscript: Skeptics at Cal Tech”

Final Thoughts

I think this is a book everyone should read. Aside from the passages above, Crichton does a beautiful job discussing how in the pursuit of knowledge and empiricism that surrounds science, we fail to acknowledge or give proper attention to things like consciousness and psychic abilities. It sounds crazy to a lot of people, but I am not skeptical of those things. I think that everyone has a bit of that in them. Look at things like intuition for example: who’s to say that that “feeling” can’t be amplified with practice. There are so many distractions and such that take us away from ourselves these days and cause us to live outside of the present moment. It is this detachment that contributes to not enjoying life! When you live out of the present, you either spend too much time worrying, always planning for the next thing, or just going through the motions. Practicing being in the present is beneficial in so many ways, which I would not do justice explaining here.

All in all, even if you are not too fond of psychic abilities and recollections of such, there are plenty of other great reflections in here that I think anyone can relate to. If you are someone like me who is on the cusp of entering the “real world” (I hate that term and will probably talk about that later), this is definitely a great read for you.

Hope you liked the post!



6 thoughts on “Review: TRAVELS by Michael Crichton Review

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