I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but it’s Jurassic Park Week here at TTAF. Yes, that’s right, a whole week devoted to the movie Jurassic Park. It is, after all, one of the better movies ever made. Have you ever seen Jurassic Park? That’s a ridiculous question, I know. But if you haven’t, the basic premise is this: a billionaire named John Hammond creates a theme park called Jurassic Park. It’s kind of like a museum, but instead of a bunch of artifacts and bones filling up the place, Hammond actually recreates the prehistoric era. You see, it’s filled with real-life dinosaurs, cloned from DNA found in ancient insects, which had been preserved in pre-historic resin. I guess it’s not like a museum at all then . . . more like a zoo. But it’s a zoo filled with animals from the past, brought back to life. The problem is that a worker gets attacked, a team of experts visit, a dark and stormy night rolls in, the electric fences (you know, the ones that keep the dinosaurs in their cage) break down, and things generally hit the fan.
Hold that thought for a moment. Bear with me.
Often times my wife and I find ourselves reminiscing on the past, as most people often do. After all, we’ve known each other for quite some time, we’ve started a family, we’ve travelled quite a bit, we’ve got some great friends . . . we have a lot of great memories on which to reminisce.
Often we’ll be reminded of something and one of us will just turn to the other and say, “Remember that time . . .?” Remember when . . .? Remember when we were planning our wedding? Remember our wedding day? Our honeymoon? Remember when we were living there? Remember our daughter’s first birthday? Man, if we could recreate that moment, that would be so great.
And, sometimes, we remember great memories in a slightly different way. Sometimes our great memories almost begrudge something in the present. As in, “Remember the days, before we had kids, that we could sleep in past 7:00 on Saturday?” Remember what it was like when we could come home and just sit on the couch and listen to music and read a book and it was just quiet and peaceful? Remember what life was like before . . .? Remember that one thing we used to have?
Man . . . if we could have just frozen time, then. If we could just go back to those days. If we could just recreate that one trip we took, do it all over again, exactly the same way, with nothing different, and this could be like that, and that could be the way it was. If I could take that memory of that time and just bottle it up . . . man . . . I’d like that.
Now, back to our previous discussion. As I was saying, after Spielberg sufficiently captures the excitement of the Jurassic Park moviegoers—who gaze in awe at the sheer majesty of the dinosaurs he’s created—a sequence of ill-fated happenings take place and things just hit the fan. Of course, one had to know that the idea of building a theme park and filling it with incredibly dangerous animals that haven’t existed for millions of years, and about which we know very little, could end up being a bad idea. In fact, Dr. Ian Malcolm questions Mr. Hammond explicitly in the movie. After Hammond compares the park (and the delays they’ve experienced in opening) to Disneyland, Malcolm says, “But John, if the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.”
But before that . . . as we watch . . . as we see the gates of Jurassic Park part before us and as we listen to John Williams’s iconic score, we think to ourselves, “Man, how awesome is this?!” How cool would it be if we could really do that? How breathtaking would it be to see that brachiosaurus in the field? How awesome would it be to see a Tyrannosaurus? How great would it be if we could recreate dinosaurs? If we could recreate the Jurassic era? Man . . . if only we could do that.
In hindsight, sure, after we watch the movie, of course we can look back and say, “Well, yeah! Of course! You put a freaking T-Rex in an electric cage! With Newman in charge of the power! What do you think would happen? Don’t you know, Mr. Hammond, that if the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down the pirates don’t eat the tourists? Who in there right mind would want to come face-to-face with a Tyrannosaurus?!”
But the reality is, for many of us (including me and my wife), we do this all the time. We don’t recreate the Jurassic Era or dinosaurs, of course, but we find ourselves wanting to freeze time. We find ourselves wanting to freeze life. Wanting to bring the past back into the present. Wanting to bring back some majestic element from long ago. To experience that moment over again. To be caught up in some past majesty. Remember that time . . .? Remember what it was like back when . . .? Man, if life could be just like it was . . .
Do you ever do that?
There are many life lessons to be learned from Spielberg’s classic, Jurassic Park, and one of them is this: life moves forward. As truly awesome as a field full of Brachiosaurus may be—or seeing a live T-Rex in a theme park, or the general idea of cloning a dinosaur from an insect found in ancient amber—at the end of the day maybe the past should just stay in the past. Guide our future? Sure. But stay in the past.
That’s not to say that holding on to, or trying to recreate, the past will interrupt the cooking of your dinner, or leave you stranded on an open toilet, or spit on by a Dilophosaurus. But it very well may cause you to miss the majesty being created in front of you today. It very well may cause you to miss this one time and the memories that this one time would provide if you were to allow yourself to embrace today and embrace the future that tomorrow holds.
The reality is that life moves forward. Every day offers a new majesty all its own, a new aspect that inspires awe, a new sight to view in wonder, a new memory that one day in the future you’ll look back on and say, “Remember that time when . . . .?” My challenge is to create these new memories. To stop looking in the rear-view mirror while life is driving forward. To stop trying to recreate that one time, that time before, back when. Maybe, if you find yourself begrudging where you are in life currently, it’s to instead embrace life’s ever-changing nature, to move with it, follow it. Life moves forward. Look ahead.