Thank You, Steve Irwin.

Ah, damn it. 5:30 in the morning and I wake up, open Google and try to find out if Bush has gotten us into another war, maybe Iran, maybe North Korea. Thankfully, no new war today, at least not yet. Instead, something that hits me just as hard. Steve Irwin’s dead? I didn’t even know that was possible. I thought the guy was indestructible, if not completely charmed. Man, what a shitty day.

Think about what this guy has done. He was able to take our nightmares…vicious reptiles and snakes, poisonous spiders and fish, everything that makes us shudder and cringe… and not just bring them to life and explain them, but make us care for them, respect them and recognize the need to preserve both them and the habitat they so desperately need to survive. He did it with humor and excitement; even through a television screen you could feel his love and passion for what he was doing.

For the rest of us on the planet who daily labor behind office desks in tiny cubicles, drive trucks and taxis through crowded city streets, pick up garbage, work in factories, paint houses and otherwise spend our crappy little lives going from one paycheck to another, Steve Irwin gave us a glimpse of what true love for what you were doing felt like. He showed us Australia, a country that seems to actually be as big as it’s legend, and made us all daydream about getting in a Land Cruiser with our faithful dog and beautiful wife by our side and hit the Outback for unbridled adventure.

In the process he did more than almost anyone else to help save the very things he loved… animals that we otherwise be terrified of and want to kill. The fact that it was one of those very same animals that finally ended his life is in a way weirdly fitting; thank the Lord it wasn’t a croc. If Steve Irwin was going to die, anyone who’s ever seen his work figured that’s the way it would probably happen. By all accounts his death was unexpected, fast and without suffering. Thank God for that, but man, I can’t believe how much I’m gonna miss a guy I’ve never met.

So we all wake up this morning to find the world a bit more bereft, with one less of the truly good guys in it. At least his family has the small comfort of knowing that millions upon millions of people will miss him as well and we all hope that they’ll continue his work. We in the “civilized world” need what he gave us on so many levels; we needed him at least as much as animals he worked so hard to save did. Goodbye Steve, and thanks again.