President’s Column – April 2005

Title: Life is an Adventure
Author: Elmo Brown
Publication: The Outcrop, April 2005, p. 3

Here I sit at my computer keyboard, once again, contemplating what to write. The difference this time is that it comes within a week of when one of our most esteemed members, Susan Landon, has suffered a horrible injury while downhill skiing (Editor’s note: please see related story on page 10.) Each day of this past week, e-mails have been bouncing around the geologic community with updates on her condition. What is obvious from all of the correspondence is that there is a deep caring within our organization for one of our own. In Susan’s case, it is no wonder that there is so much concern since she has always been an involved and likeable person. But you know, when it comes right down to it, just about every geologist I have ever met is a pretty neat human being. Of course, I may be just a bit biased but I am not alone in this assessment. I have had folks outside of the profession tell me the same thing. So this got me to thinking (which is a risky thing, I must admit), “Why are the people in the geologic community so dog-gone likable?”

I think this aspect of our professional culture comes in large part from our experience in managing risk. This is not to say that we are a bunch of folks who jump at every opportunity that comes down the pike. No, we tend to choose our risk with plenty of thought and often hours, days, weeks, and sometimes years of research. This separates us from risk acceptors who are so loathe to making decisions that they allow for the situation or for others to make the choices for them. These folks tend to have little control of their lives and consequently often suffer from the worst situations.

We geologists, on the other hand, place our necks on the line time and again, whether it is in our professional reputation, in monetary risk, or sometimes in our physical well-being. Even with the best information and thought, sometimes we come out ahead and sometimes we don’t. But no matter what the consequence of each decision, we never stop. For if we come out on the short end, we take our lumps, learn our lessons and move on. Each decision is never viewed as a final success or an ultimate failure; it is just another step to something bigger and betteror maybe it just points us to something different.

I think all of this experience balances us. We have seen the highs and we have trudged through the lows. We have learned that image does not come anywhere close to substance (maybe that’s why there are never any paparazzi outside of the Rockbuster’s Ball!). And we have discovered that humor helps a ton during the tough times.

In a nutshell, I think geologists are a pretty cool bunch who passionately pursue life to the fullest. Whether it is creating new interpretations, proposing wild exploration plays, or just tramping around some of the most obscure places on the planet (and for some, places not on this planet), we absolutely relish the journey. My father had a saying, “Life is an adventure.” All of the geologists I know not only believe this–they live it.