September 04, 2006
I saw a link to an article while surfing the internet at work that afternoon, the bulk of my tasks having long since been completed, and my mind already halfway home. I thought it was a joke. Because, when I see things that are greatly troubling, as a self-defense mechanism, it is always easier for me to think it is a joke at first.
But it was true. It was no joke. He was gone.
It wouldn’t be fair to say I was shattered. I didn’t go home in tears. But, I did call my parents immediately to see if they had heard the news. They had. They just hadn’t figured out how to break it to me yet.
Steve Irwin was a hero of mine.
I loved his passion. I loved how he brought knowledge about dangerous animals into millions of homes, so that we wouldn’t immediately judge them, so we could see them on their terms, understand their purpose, and appreciate their beauty. Because, they were beautiful creatures. Deadly, yes, but gorgeous all the same.
I was enthralled with the life I perceived he led, and when I entered college I enrolled as a Biology: Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution major because I fancied that one day I would travel the world, studying and saving animals just like Steve. I eventually changed to psychology, studying a completely different kind of animal, but I never stopped following along on his adventures.
Until, that is, there were no more adventures to be had.
I know that a lot of people thought he was a joke. They didn’t appreciate his methods for raising awareness. They didn’t like his persona. They thought he was doing more harm than good, taking chances he shouldn’t for a cause that wasn’t worth it.
But, he taught a generation of kids that there is beauty in the unlikeliest of places. He taught us not to judge things simple because they have a certain label. He taught us to see things that the rest of the world couldn’t, didn’t want to, wouldn’t be bothered with.
I miss Steve. I miss his lessons. I miss his adventures. I miss his passion. I miss his beauty. He was every bit as beautiful as the animals he strove to teach us about and save.
This post was inspired by Rara’s post about the death of Superman. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you should do so immediately. It’s about more than you might think. Then again, it’s Rara, and her posts are always deeper than they appear on the surface.