Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Lesson from Steve Irwin's Death

This man, though he may have had a grand passion for nature, was steadily destroying what should consist of a respectful relationship between humans and wild animals. What he spent his life doing was showing the public exactly how not to approach and treat animals and claiming he was "a proffessional". His methods were successful at gaining the public eye, but at the cost of these animals. He portrayed wildlife in their natural habitat but he provoked them to act unnaturally. He put a great deal of unnecessary stress on animals and created situations dangerous for both himself and the focal animal. This only promotes the already wrong idea that human and animal should stand shoulder to shoulder, already we have adults going to lengths to approach a giant buffalo and pushing their children closer for a good photograph. Humans already have the wrong idea and a grand lack of respect for wildlife and here comes Mr. Irwin, ballooning that idea to the breaking point. Well I hope that people stop to think, as they mourn his death, that a lesson comes with it.

Nature and the Rest of Time

I wrote on my facebook a comment that holds true every step I take farther along this life path of mine. "I love nature and have no problem abandoning everything to dissappear into it for the rest of time". This is something I so badly want to do and yet the grip of reality has particularly of late been tightening around my wrists, pinning me down, holding me hostage. I don't know what to do about it other than continue to flit from one field job to another, following the life cycles of the birds that are my focus. But these jobs are an escape from rush hour traffic and mind numbing monotony...and growing up. An escape from real life. I don't know where they are leading me and I'm starting to feel that rather they are just trapping me. I can't spend the rest of my life as a drifter. It's not possible. Chris McCandless did it but only to perish in the not-so-wild wilderness. Nonetheless, he is my hero. He followed his heart rather than falling in line with the rest of us human-cattle. He relinquished his position in society for a life as a wanderer. But throughout his travels, he could never truly disappear into nature because even in the wilds of Alaska, he wasn't more than several miles from civilization. Nonetheless, he spent two months, fending for his own life against the harsh wild, and succeeded without the hand of another, without even setting eyes on another. Chris made his escape but, feeling the ache of loneliness, he finally wanted to break out of his hidden utopia and return to that which was familiar. I think it is symbolic that he was not able to; he discovered the river he needed to cross back into civilization had risen, swollen by spring melt and he was stuck. The world he had so completely rid himself of was now neglecting to let him return. It was the products of his hidden utopia that finished him in the end. But what I think was particularly symbolic is that, while he did want to return to society, his timing was off and it wasn't a complete loss. But perhaps it was nature whispering to him "stay a bit longer and you'll never want to leave..." because, really, do you think that this boy could have gone home, gone to whatever prestigious university, entered the society of money driven individuals, and lived the rest of his life? Of course not, he would have always sustained that itch to return and what if he never did? What if his own wrists were cinched? Perhaps the way things turned out was best, in a way. I'm done rambling for now...but I haven't yet reached a conclusion for myself.


I'm going to start with a recounting of a story I wrote a few years ago that brings tears to my eyes...
A particularly memorable event so far this break I would like to bring to the light. The walks in the woods with our crazy lab puppies have been delightful. That is, until that of our beloved Dakota revealed his adept skill in managing to find the nastiest thing in those woods-toilet paper smeared in human excrement. Yes. So just imagine, if you can, my father barreling toward the yellow puppy like an ape on a rampage screaming "No no no noo!". Dakota only looked up with an expression of pure euphoria, trails of toilet paper hanging out of his mouth. Somehow, Dad managed to make him drop it, but not without getting a little souvinir on his fingers and under his fingernails. Dad, face screwed into an expression of pure disgust, led the poop troop off the path, cutting through the woods, heading straight for the stream to clean off. Trailing behind, I suddenly caught wind of the putrid scent and my father and I looked down at Dakota's back to discover a streak of shit ground into his coarse yellow fur. Despite having no doubt at what on earth it could be, he proceeded to bring his face alarmingly close to the substance to take a whiff. "Garghhhhh!". Well, what did he expect? On we went, with me stiffling a gaffaw that threatened to bring me to my knees. I had to tell him, so I did. What, you ask? Look down, Dad- your shirt, umm, and your pants. Two smears of the excrement that had now become quite familiar to us both stood out, smelling sickly, from his clothing. I watched in horror as he picked up a piece of bark and, in a sorry attempt to rid himself of this sneaky substance, only further embedded it into the fibers. I laughed with abandon. On the bank, I watched in amusement as he threw sticks into the water which Dakota cheerfully dove in after. This wasn't a very effective unless he had hoped only to moisten the shit. I recoiled as my father brushed away at Dakota's back with his soiled fingers, spraying droplets of water and specks of poo. Oh what a day.