One Christmas a few years back, as I vaguely recall, John and I did buy Daniel a Steve Irwin/Crocodile Hunter action figure and safari truck. Or at least I think it was supposed to be Steve Irwin. Possibly a close facsimile or cheap imitation. I'm not sure.
But no doubt about it, the real Steve Irwin was a larger-than-life hero, a one-in-a-million, animal-loving conservation icon. At least he was to his fans.
When news of Irwin's bizarre death from a stingray's lethal barb to his heart hit the media Monday, poignant eulogies and heartfelt condolences poured out to Irwin's family, via the blogosphere, from stunned, grieving fans around the world.
"A man with a huge heart, a genuine passion for what he did, an infectious enthusiam for life, a love for the natural world, and no fear of death. He died doing what he loved. If only we all could boast such a life and death..." commented "Mark" on the Sydney Morning Herald News Blog.
"We've lost a hero. An idol to our kids. A champion to the cause of conservation. And an inspiration to everyone to follow their hearts and do what you love..." shared a blogger named Stuart.
"...Nothing but admiration for the way Steve Irwin lived his life. He took something he truly, passionately loved and made a nice living doing it. He traveled the world, and shared what he learned with the world in his unique, energetic, enthusiastic style. I can't help but think of Rosalind Russell as Auntie Mame when I think of Steve Irwin, "Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!" He knew his entire life what he wanted to do, he spent his life living. Few of us are so lucky to do so much good for so many and have such a blast doing it...", wrote Jason of Warwick, NY.Jason went on..."In Grover's Corners, the setting for Thornton Wilder's Our Town, Emily asks the Stage Manager: Emily: Does anyone ever realize life while they live it? Stage Manager: No, no they don't. The poets.... and the saints, they do. Some...Steve Irwin LIVED his life the way he wanted, doing what he loved, with whom he loved, and did a world of good for environmental conservation along the way. I am saddened that he's no longer with us but proud and consoled to say that here was a man who spent every minute on this earth doing what he loved..."
"How rare is it that?" asked Jason. "How wonderful it must have been for him to live with such unbridled, joyful, passion."How wonderful, indeed. Just think what inbridled, joyful passion awaits all of us who are brave enough to make a living doing what we truly love. Of course, chucking the 9-5 desk job in pursuit of our heart's true, more adventurous career desire usually involves a little thing called "risk" that most of us, unlike Irwin, are mighty afraid to take.
Question: What are the "crocodiles" in your life/career that you are afraid to face?
Irwin knew the risks of cavorting with crocodiles and the other dangerous creatures that he loved, but he refused to let those risks get in the way of what he wanted to do.
"I have no fear of losing my life," he is quoted as once saying. "If I have to save a koala or a crocodile or a kangaroo or a snake, mate, I will save it."
No apologies from Irwin for living his life and making his living being true to his authentic self. Would you expect anything less from a guy who was given a 12-foot scrub python for his sixth birthday? The crocodile gig, I believe, was in Irwin's khakis. And he was, it seems, born to be a showman. He combined the two so well. To leave his unique call of the wild unanswered would have been spiritual suicide for Irwin.
Question: How many of us commit spiritual suicide by not answering our own "calls of the wild"? Most of our calls aren't that wild at all. Not a crocodile in sight. Maybe we feel nudged to take a college course, or get that nursing degree, or write that novel. It's what we'd love to do, but..."
Like proverbial sands through the hourglass, our lives slip away, carrying our dreams away with them.
Ironically, of course, it was a stingray, not a crocodile, that brought Irwin's maverick career and life to a sudden, tragic end. Whodathunk?
Question: What surprise "stingrays" have stung you, or barbed your heart at some point along your personal or professional journeys?
We raise our kids, give them everything we've got, and sometimes, in spite of our efforts, they whip around and break our hearts in various and sundry ways. But would we trade having our kids and all the parental stress and sorrow that often accompanies raising them, for a boring, sterile life without them?
I love to write. I love to write columns. I'm blogging every day and loving it -- doing what I love -- writing -- and I've been stung a few times with some ugly comments. Not everyone likes whatI have to say. And I'm not making a blessed dime. Am I going to stop writing?
I once read a popular career self-help book titled, "Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow." Well, I'm here to tell you that money does not always follow when you do what you love.
I'm also here to tell you that sometimes, you're swimming along in your life, doing what you love, and you happen upon a stringray. Sometimes you get the stingray and sometimes the stingray gets you.
Unfortunately for The Crocodile Hunter, the stingray's strike was lethal. For most of us, though, we live to see another day, make another dollar. Might as well make that dollar doing what you love. Sure, the stingrays may still follow, but do what you love anyway. Risk! Take a chance! Grow! Live and work passionately! Find your sense of adventure and follow it! Trust!
One final question: If you die tonight, what would you regret not having done?
Whatever you want to do, or think you can do, begin it now.
Remember Steve Irwin.
Realize your life while you're living it.
Live an authentic life.