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I got this from a non-paleontologist friend this morning. I submit
it for your enjoyment. It's pretty rich, but on the whole, it filled
me with patriotic zeal. As it is not in any way a "serious" post,
please send your comments to me and not the group.
The scientists in paleontology (and that includes, you, dude - who gives
a crap whether you're an undergrad or a curator? - you're part of this
unbelievably cool world) - they have such wonderful minds! They're not
the number-crunching, pencil-pushing, desk scientists. Most go out into
the field and do the back-breaking work themselves, in the worst
conditions - now *that's* dedication. Compare that to some engineer who
has to 'work late' moving a mouse around in some air-conditioned office.
But *all* paleontologists, even the ones who *don't* go out into the
field, even those who spend weeks going blind over drawings and papers,
they have something that goes far beyond simple drawings and arranging
of bones. All paleontologists have *imagination*. I mean, imagination
running out their pockets and all through their hair, man! They *see*
worlds that only exist as rocky remains, buried in the grave of Time.
They create, for those of us willing to watch and listen, incredible new
vistas, where behemoths that would've been hard to believe - even
staring one down the mouth - roam in majestic freedom. Their world is
not our world. Theirs is a much richer place, where the imagination
becomes reality as the pages are turned *backwards*. They read the last
page of the novel, and write everything else, from prologue to climax,
with all the exposition, plot twists, and drama of the finest works ever
conceived or composed by man. And the greatest part of it all is that
their works are all 'based on a true story!'. What they do is not just
a skill. It's not just a talent. It's both of those, and a
*philosophy*... It's a *way of life*. And It's a *love* - nobody gets
into paleontology for the money, because quite simply, they're ain't
none. There's a love there, a desire to know, the great "Quest for
Knowledge" that takes them all back tens and hundreds of millions of
years, back before humans were even a twist in some prehistoric mammal's
DNA... It can be an inhospitable place, because of the great hand of
the Now that reaches back and tries to destroy what they have built with
the cries of fools who don't want to know where we came from, or don't
care. It 'separates the men from the boys', so to speak. And those of
you who survive the onslaught of the armies of the Now - living in a
tent, with rations of Spam and crackers, in prehistoric Utah, or braving
the great cathedrals and labyrinths of books and bone deep in the heart
of Museum and Library, the last bastions of temporal freedom for us, the
dreamers - you create for us Yesterday, so that we can better understand
Today and Tomorrow. Would that there were more of you, or that you were
at least better funded! :) But I know that the Love of it all will keep
you going, no matter the circumstances. Because that's the type of
people you are. And I, for one, am terribly grateful for that. In all
honesty, the world is truly a better place to have such people in it.
Well, I just felt like waxing eloquently for a moment or two... I
thought that you, and maybe some of your paleo-brethren that you can
pass these words on to, would like to know that some of us common folk
out here believe in what you're doing, and think it's necessary. And I
make this solemn promise to you and the entire paleo-community: If ever
I am in a position to make significant, or even insignificant,
contributions to your world, through money, art, hefting a pick-ax, or
lugging big chucks of plaster-encased history around - well, put simply:
I'm there, dude!
That's all from me for now. Until next time, keep the faith!
Jarrod Davis - Dino-lover and fellow dreamer.