The Unforeseen Downfall of Field Work

August 14, 2016

We all can imagine the difficulties that field work brings, especially when living in a cabin is required. Spiders, for example, are a foreseeable drawback of field biology. I have come to realize that there is one downfall to this line of work that I had not foreseen: becoming jaded.

 

I've found myself becoming less and less in awe by landscapes. Yellowstone National Park is known as one of the most beautiful places in America.  But after a few weeks of driving through the Park, passing peaks such as Electric Peak and Mount Washburn, I became less enthralled by the landscape. A few weeks later, I found myself feeling incredibly frustrated by drivers stopping to take a peak at bison, elk, or even a bear. The magic that is Yellowstone faded and I began to look around me in the same way I would look around me if I were at home.

 

The same thing happened as an intern working with California Condors.  These birds are ginormous and are rather rare to see. The first time I saw a condor soaring just above my head, I felt like the luckiest person alive. But after a few trips up to Base Camp, where most Big Sur condors hang out, I lost the sense of wonder that I felt each time one flew by. They became just another bird like a Turkey Vulture or a Red-tailed Hawk. The rugged coastline of Highway 1, like the roads in Yellowstone, became unremarkable to me. I began to detest McWay Falls due to the terrible parking and driving seen there and slowly found myself wondering why people thought a waterfall was so special.  

 

This sense of feeling jaded always began slowly, at a rate unnoticeable to me. I can't pinpoint the exact moment where I no longer found seeing a Grizzly Bear exciting.  I guess what I'm trying to say is living in incredible places becomes less special over time.  The landscape around you becomes your home, and just like living in a major city, the tourist attractions that so many people flock to are normal, everyday buildings to you.  

 

Instead, you begin to take notice of the smaller details.  You become excited not because you've just seen a condor perched in a tree, but because this condor is from Pinnacles National Park and you've never seen him in the area before.  You become excited that you shaved some time off the long drive along Highway 1 because the wildfire closed all the parks and McWay Falls had absolutely no traffic.  

 

Even though I know landscapes and animals become less special to me over time, I'm still excited to work in new places. I realize now that I will become jaded of the environment or of sighting a particular species, but I will instead become excited at specific details.  In a way, it's kind of cool that I become jaded of the environment because it means that the new environment has become my home. 

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