Crocodile Hunter inspiration to many

By Anita Doberman: Lifestlyes Columnist

Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, recently passed away. Like many people around the world, we were sad to find out about Irwin’s passing.

Our family has enjoyed watching his show, and our children loved to imitate his Australian accent. We laughed at Irwin’s jokes, expressions, and his contagious zest for life.

Irwin had enormous success. The producers of the “Crocodile Hunter” said the show was watched by more than 200 million viewers per week, and longtime friend John Stanton attributed Irwin’s popularity to his genuine character and enthusiasm. In recent days, Stanton told us that Irwin was the same person in front of the camera and behind it.

I think viewers could tell that Irwin was the real thing. He wasn’t putting on an act.

Children and adults loved to watch this fearless Australian man trying to tackle a crocodile or going after a poisonous snake, and realize how much he loved it. In many interviews, Irwin said that working with wildlife was his calling. He truly believed in what he was doing, and was not afraid to step out and put his life on the line.

I thought about Irwin’s sudden death more than I anticipated. Irwin could have been a present-day Hercules, almost invincible. Perhaps, I expected him to always be around doing the “Crocodile Hunter” show, and that the wild animals he handled somehow wouldn’t harm him. But, like all of us he was mortal, and when a stingray pierced his heart, he was fatally wounded.

I asked myself, if I died unexpectedly — not a happy thought, but one that sometimes shakes us to the core — could I say that I am doing what I am supposed to do with my life? Am I enjoying every moment, like Irwin seemed to have done?

Sometimes I know that I don’t. There are days when I am in a hurry and forget to enjoy my children, or my husband’s letters from overseas. Instead, I focus on the fact that I have changed their diapers for the third time in 10 minutes, or the fact that I haven’t heard my husband’s voice in a while. At times, I forget to tell friends or loved ones how much I appreciate them and get caught up in the busy-ness of the day.

Unlike Irwin, I couldn’t work with wildlife — I can barely manage the bugs I find in my home — but I am inspired by his passion, courage, and his ability to embrace life fully.

When he was alive, Irwin made us smile and take notice of the issues he believed in.

When he died, he made us cry, pause to examine our lives and ask whether we are truly doing what we are supposed to do.

So, thank you, Steve, for all that you did. We will miss you, Crocodile Hunter.