Dick Wills

Dick Wills

Field Psychology

I know of two psychological events that may occur during a field trip. I want you to be prepared for possible mood swings during a longer field expedition. You have spent so much time getting ready for this adventure, and at last you are there in the field searching. This is what all the effort was for, right? Then one day after you’ve been looking for days, you have found nothing, you’re worn out, it’s hot, your tired, you begin to wonder, “What am I doing here?” You think, “I could be in my air-conditioned home in an easy chair watching my favorite TV show. Gee, I’m tired!”

I’m always amused when this happens, and it does.  You may think, “Well, not to me.” It will hit you sooner or later, one trip or another. It’s just a fatigue thing; so don’t be surprised if it happens. That mood quickly evaporates when you find a new specimen. You get so busy digging you forget about any pain up to that point.  

You may have a second psychological experience that has nothing to do with fossils. You may find yourself just standing and starring. You are no longer looking for fossils. You become so awestruck by the beauty of the open desert or prairie and the limitless horizon beyond. The views are breathtaking, serene, calming and they can stop me in my tracks. I try to take pictures to show others but they never do justice to the 360 degrees of beauty: the openness of the Big Sky country, and then there are the sunsets. You don’t just see it; you feel it. 

I have often sat for long periods mesmerized by it all. You can’t help yourself. It is a curious feeling to be so immobilized: you can’t move or do not wish to. Its hypnotic and you just look. I cannot put it into words. You would have to be there to experience it. I can get emotional just writing about it. Trust me, if you never find a fossil you will still take something valuable home with you.  

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