The Link by CJ

By now you've probably all heard of Ida, the fossil found in Germany thought to be a missing link in primate evolution.

Ida is 37 million years old....imagine how different the world was back then.

Heck, in this age of instant communication with almost anyone around the globe, it's hard to remember how different the world was 37 years ago--or just 7 years ago!

37 million years? Why should we care?

Simple. We can't help but care. As humans, we're driven to try to understand ourselves. Our history. Our culture. Our psyche.

That's why stories were invented.

Think of the Bible and other ancient religious texts. They aren't composed of lectures or dry recitations of facts.

No. They're composed of stories. Not just about gods. About people.

Go back further. One of the first thriller stories was told aloud by the poet, Homer, almost 3,000 years ago. He spun stories that were epic in their scope, describing feats of battles that impacted his audience’s known world, highlighting the struggle of heroes who struggled against not only men, but also gods and monsters.

Yet, the heart of every tale told by Homer is the story of one man and one woman and their need for each other.

Yes, the Odyssey was not only the first thriller, it was also one of the first romances! It has everything--travel, adventure, action, daring feats, boundless love....

The true essence of a Hero's Journey was made popular by Joseph Campbell. Which is probably why I still enjoy reading The Odyssey--even though I've read it five times already!

But you can go back even further--maybe to our earliest missing link in the evolutionary chain of story telling.

When I was in Australia on an archeological expedition sponsored by Earthwatch, we found evidence of families dwelling in caves dating back to 41,000 years ago.

What were they doing, huddled around their fires deep in the star-filled Outback nights?

Well, gauging by the cave art adorning these caves, they were telling stories.

41,000 years ago mankind was trying to understand why the world is the way it is, why we do what we do, what the true nature of good and evil is.

The origins of Pop Culture!

How much have things really changed?

As I read the true-life stories from today's news and compare them to our current bestsellers, seems to me we haven't changed at all.

The world is still a puzzling place and, despite our technology, we're still just hairless apes trying our best to understand it.

And we'll always need storytellers to help us. Which is good for all of us here at Pop Culture Divas--think of it as ageless job security!

What do you think? What stories do you find timeless and turn to, time and time again?

About CJ:
As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge suspense novels. Her debut, LIFELINES (Berkley, March 2008), became a National Bestseller and Publishers Weekly proclaimed it a "breathtakingly fast-paced medical thriller." The second in the series, WARNING SIGNS, was released January, 2009 and the third, URGENT CARE, is due out October, 2009. Contact her at

For more info on Ida:
National Geographic

New York Times

The History Channel

Photos courtesy of: Andy Warhol Museum, National Geographic, and The History Channel


  1. LOVE your post CJ! I couldn't agree with you more. I think as human beings we have always been concerned with story telling as a way to pass on our culture, teach morals and values and well - just entertain and pass the time. And I'm all for that! ;)

  2. P.S. I just wanted to say that the guy on the cover of "Urgent Care" looks a little like McDreamy! :D I'm sure that wasn't intentional though. **g**

  3. Is it just me, or does that fossil look like it came from a movie set?

  4. I really enjoyed this article, manage to scientifically justify our natural instincts to read and tell "stories" it! :)

  5. Thanks, Joanna!

    And, yes, the hunky guy on my new cover looks suspiciously like a complaints here, lol!

  6. The fossil has been preserved in a special polymer, so it does look very polished--but it's also a complete skeleton PLUS all the degraded soft tissue, which is what has scientists drooling!

  7. Thanks, Lisa! I believe we learn more from stories than we ever will from textbooks.

  8. Fabulous post, CJ!

    You're so right too. All of life's history is a story in the making. The archetypes we resonate with show up in the myths we are most fond of retelling.

    It's funny but even gossip has a purpose, since it's a way of projecting outward our own feelings about people's actions and choices!

    As you said, the world is still a puzzling place, and no matter how many centuries pass by we're still struggling to understand our selves, and our lives.

    Fascinating, Captain!

    Maybe that's why I'm still so fond of the Pern series of books by McCaffrey and the Empire series by Raymond Feist and Janny Wurts. The creation of complete worlds is always so intriguing, anyways, and both series explore similar issues of culture, class distinctions, and finding ones own place in the world.

    I LOVE this post!

    Enthusiastic applause!

  9. LOL, Chiron! Don't even get me started talking about world building and the hero's journey, we'll be here all night!

    Love both those series!

    Thanks for dropping by.

  10. I'm with Chiron--the Pern series is great. I also enjoyed the first three Clan of the Cave Bear books by Jean Auel, the Broken Sword series by Michelle West, the Dinosaur Planet/Planet Pirates series by Anne McCaffrey, the Narnia series and the Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander.

    A couple go-to stand-alones are Gone with the Wind and The Stand by Stephen King.

    If you want really go back in time, try Plato's Republic and The Epic of Gilgamesh. They cover the creation and the great flood from a very different perspective than the Bible does.

  11. Excellent post CJ! Very thought-provoking. Campbell was groundbreaking in his global view of storytelling with regard to religion - linking major events to each and every religion in existence. Makes you wonder.
    The best stories help us learn something about ourselves, and maybe evaluation our own motivations. And, of course, to entertain, because we need to have fun once in awhile too!
    Again, kudos on the great post.

  12. Thanks, Cate! When I first read Campbell way back when I was in college, I felt like I was coming home.

    Finally someone who understood why stories were so important to all of us and why some of us are compelled to tell them!

  13. Ohhhh, great story choices, Jennifer!!!
    Thanks for stopping by!

  14. When people worry about what is happening to fiction and publishing, I say "There will always be a market for well-told stories." Great post.

  15. I agree, LJ! Thanks for stopping by!


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