Can you imagine getting lost in a park that is 1 mile long and 3/4-mile wide? How about just standing on a beach watching a tidal wave approach, and remaining transfixed on the sight, unable to move to safety? These are just a pair of examples of people exhibiting “a vacation state of mind” that Laurence Gonzales believes is becoming more prevalent as modern man moves farther and farther technologically from prehistoric man. He asserts that as we continue to surround ourselves with artificial and mechanical means to live, we lose our individual (and collective) abilities to pay attention to the world around us and, thus, to adapt.
At the same time, he provides insight into certain ingrained behavioral scripts that many of us still possess, or have developed as responses to previous experiences. In some cases, those automatic reactions are deadly; in other situations, lifesavers.
The first half of this work is fascinating and goes quickly, while the latter half sort of drags on as the author searches deeper and deeper into biochemistry and molecular genetics to try to answer his questions about why people act the ways that they do. Overall, his passion for life and his concern for our earthly environment color all of his comments, but without becoming preachy. Yes, he is talking about climate change, but no, he is not throwing out a guilt trip; he is trying to make the reader think.
Rated: Mild. A total of five crude terms are in the book, three of which refer to excrement.