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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

There once lived a hunter

Published: September 8, 2006
Section: Arts, Etc.

Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie:
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you 'grave for me:
Here he lies where he long'd to be;

Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

–Robert Louis Stevenson

ITEM: Finishing my summer internship, I lament with a co-worker the current state of air travel. Ive traveled the globe, but now Im giving up flying. No fear of airplanes;

in fact, I even jumped out of one. But I wont be told I cant take toothpaste and mouthwash aboard. So she says maybe its just another sacrifice we should make for our safety

ITEM: A random party last weekend to kick off the year. Clandestine, unregistered, location undisclosed. No road, lights, ambulances or firetrucks. No authority figures. No rules. You know what went on. Somebody might have gotten hurt

ITEM: In The Hoot last week, a plea by a fellow student that we be careful in what we post on blogs and online in general. I agree: What you say publicly can indeed do you harm.

ITEM: At lunchtime today, a certain columnist for The Hoot, who has been away for the weekend, learns that his hero, Steve Irwin, known the world over as the Crocodile Hunter, is dead. Dear readers, this is a shameless eulogy. No apologies are forthcoming.

ITEM: In Tuesdays Justice, a farewell to the man starts thus: We all knew youd go like this. (Guess what: I always knew youd all know.) Its good to be certain. It gives us reassurance, even passes for wisdom, in a world where you might get hurt.

I dont want to be this safe. Id rather feel clean when I travel and take my chances. I want to write my thoughts for the world to see in and elsewhere. Are you reading this, future employer? I hope not, cause youre a big, fat doofus. I wish our generation werent so cynical. Oh, and one more wish:

I want to be killed the way Steve Irwin was.

Steve-O, you good old bloke, you big, strapping Aussie fellow with wild, blonde hair. You had the charisma I always envied. When the tabloids circled like tiger sharks, accusing you of negligence, you shrugged them off with a no-worries charm, that down-under lilt, an irrepressible, boyish grin, and a confidence that was (how do you say?) fair dinkum. You were the kind of man I wanted to be: Working at a job you loved, surrounded by a wonderful family, and adored by everyone.

You made millions of kids fall in love with our planets wildlife. (Did you like being called the Croc Hunter? You werent in it for the hunt.) Alright, so thats the name they gave you;

so you had to make commercials;

so your bush treks had caterers and make-up artists in tow. Thats show-biz. But your love for animals came through. And ours grew too, as each week we tuned out our world of regulated safety and let crocs into our living-rooms. Box jellyfish into our classrooms. Snakes onto our planes.

I always knew youd go, well, sort of like this. Somehow or other. I knew theyd scorn you. And I knew Id miss you. Sure, Im slathering on the accolades like too much Vegemite on bread. But thats exactly the way you always spoke of your family and friends. I wish it werent your turn.

Know what else? I dont care whether you were negligent or not. I forgive you if you were. You see, you lived life your way, and in doing so, you set an uncommon example for your kids and all of us. Im not advocating reckless or illegal behavior for anyone, but I cant help but feel theres some wisdom in how you lived with such energy and joy, all the while accepting the risks. We should all get such pleasure in being alive. At the very least, you gave me a little hope. Good on you, mate.

Maybe last weeks party holds out some hope still: Does it mean were not that cynical and timid? Perhaps we hunger to take little risks for the sheer love of life, dangers and all. For many of us, such evenings of outdoor abandon will be as close as we ever get to the perils and thrills of your outback. I guess it will do. Yet your challenge calls to us: Dive in! Grab that majestic, living thing;

its called life. You never know: You might get hurt. Or just maybe, if youre lucky, its potent, wonderful sting might hit you straight in the heart.

There once lived a hunter who stalked and captured the hearts and minds of a generation. Our world will be the better for it. The hunter has now gone home.

Happy hunting, Steve-O.