For years I have meant to write a blog post about Steve Irwin (AKA The Crocodile Hunter). I wanted to explain in my post how Irwin is my hero, and how I see him as one of the few people I have never met, but still feel a connection to. I wish I would have done it sooner, of course. Now it seems a little odd, considering that every other blog out there is writing about him.
I figured out a long time ago that there are three elements that I wanted to have in my career:
1. Do something I like.
2. Be one of the best in the world at it.
3. Have that something make a difference in the world.
I know that hitting 1, 2, and 3 together is very difficult. I know that it will probably have to wait until later in life for me to be doing all three. So I’ve settled for 1 and 2, and flirted with 3 for a while.
When I first saw Steve Irwin on TV, I found him very entertaining. What a great new way to do animal documentaries. No more of that stuffy narrated wildlife footage. He was getting into the action and making it real for the viewers.
After a while I grew more curious about the Crocodile Hunter and began to learn more. Low and behold I found a man who had all three elements outlined above. Irwin obviously loved his work. And he was recognized as one of the best in the world. And, his work was making a difference.
What Irwin did was to make people feel connected to nature. He wasn’t just teaching you wildlife conservation, he was showing you it in action. He was a part of it. Teachers teach and doers do, but here was a guy doing both at the same time.
I never much cared for any environmental issues. I hear neighbors talk about recycling, and I think of the huge fume-spewing recycling trucks crawling up our alley every week and the extra tax bills that pay for them. I wonder what the truth is in all the environmental fights.
I used to feel ambivalent about wildlife conservation too. Until someone explained it to me. Irwin did, through the TV. I’ve seen some of his episodes so many times I feel like I was there with him, moving crocodiles away from population, rebuilding zoos and helping injured animals hurt by the expansion of civilization.
But what most affected me was the way Irwin lived his life. He loved what he did, he did it well, and he made a difference. And he showed that you can have fun while doing it. He traveled, met people, had great experiences, started a family, saw his dreams come true.
The world has lost a leader in wildlife conservation. His family has lost a husband and a father. And many others like myself have lost a hero. Even though he is gone I know we will continue to be inspired by him. Thank you Steve.