To my surprise I was saddened by the news that I heard over the radio while driving in my car. Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter had been killed by a stingray in a freak accident while filming an underwater documentary. Obviously I did not know Steve personally and only occasionally watched him on television, yet for some reason the news did not sit well with me. I thought little of it at the time and continued on with my day.

Over the course of the next couple of days, many people brought the news to my attention and the media continued to report the tragic event. Many people were obviously bothered by Steve’s passing. A good friend mentioned to me on more than 1 occasion, how devastated his 8 year old boy was about it, and I began to wonder. In my life I could remember dozens of times when famous people had passed away. Typically, the news would be broadcast in the media, and then I wouldn’t hear of it again. Something was different this time. I continued to hear about it for several days from many different people. I still couldn’t put my finger on it though. How did this person impact so many people in such a positive way? Why were so many people so concerned?

A few days later I watched an hour long memorial tribute to Steve that was broadcasted from the Australian Zoo. In addition to the Australian Prime Minister, and many celebrities, thousands of ordinary people were in attendance and millions must have been watching on television. In a brief speech, Steve Irwin’s father Bob thanked everyone and asked of the people “please don’t mourn for Steve, mourn for the animals” he said “because they just lost the best friend they’ve ever had, and so have I.”

Later, the tribute took a bit of an emotional turn as Steve’s 8 year old daughter Bindi read a short speech that she had written. For me, this hit rather close to home as I was about her age when my own father was killed leaving a life long void in my soul. As the 8 year old girl read, I thought of my own 8 year old daughter sleeping in the next room. I was saddened. Bindi’s speech was short and to the point. Buried in the rest of her words I heard her say “My dad was the best dad in the whole world and I will miss him every day.”

I was beginning to understand how an ordinary conservationist could be so well liked. The Crocodile Hunter was in his own words, a ‘wildlife warrior’. Steve’s enthusiasm and positive, upbeat personality touched millions. No one could remain neutral when exposed to his enormous passion and his overwhelming enthusiasm. He dedicated his life to conservation and his family and he vowed never to stop fighting until his children were old enough to carry on his goal. Steve not only dedicated his energy toward wildlife conservation but he also used his fame and wealth to buy thousands of acres of land in order to protect it from clear cutting and habitat loss for animals. He spent his entire life trying to protect animals and nature from blind terror, ignorance and hatred. He never took anything for granted and in his own words considered himself “the luckiest bloke on the planet.” He did not take credit for his successes. Steve said on many occasions “I’m proud to say that I learned everything from my dad.”

As I sat in my living room, I realized that the Crocodile Hunter was a modern day super hero. He stood for what he believed in. He lived his life fighting for what he loved. Many people are passionate about things but few people can take such a strong position without standing on a negative platform. Steve stood for something! And he was always positive in the promotion of it.

I began to focus my thoughts on myself. I thought about the things that I believe in and stand for. I wondered if I was fighting hard enough to protect that which I love. I wondered if I was as positive as I should be. I believe that there is a great life lesson in Steve’s story. His life is proof that positive actions and positive thinking gain the respect of most people even if they don’t feel the way you do. There are many organizations that exist in the name of conservation but most of them do not have the respect of most people. I believe the difference is positive versus negative. All people can gain from this powerful lesson. Standing up for what you are in favor of instead of opposing what you are against. Negative words prompt people to employ defense mechanisms and take counter positions. Positive words and positive actions seem to disarm the opposition and even attract fence sitters.

I have spent my entire life loving and learning all I could grasp about fish and fly fishing. I love everything about it. Not a day goes by that I don’t invest part of my time toward increasing my knowledge of fish behavior and I am continually fueled by the clear understanding that I will never learn it all.

The reasons I fish are many, and catching fish is only one small part of it. I love it all! I love the fish, the water, the art of casting and the science of the entomology. I love the creative outlet of fly tying and I love the environment. I love and appreciate all that fly fishing has given me. I love the fact that fly fishing has taken me to some of the most beautiful places on the planet and has taught me to appreciate being there. And now I owe a debt of gratitude to the ‘crocodile hunter’ for teaching me a powerful lesson that hopefully will enable me to become a more effective ambassador of the sport.

Steve Irwin had passion and enthusiasm and he showed the whole world the power of positive thinking.

He is gone, but his legacy lives on.

“And we shall miss him every day.”

Eddie Robinson