Friday, March 24, 2006

Today is David Suzuki's 70th birthday

It's hard to believe David Suzuki is 70 years old. Have you seen his body? The guy is in better shape than most 20 year olds.

He is also the most passionate, hard-working person I have ever met. The man is my hero.

I just wish he'd run for the Liberal leadership. But he won't. He hates the way politics works in this country. He's not exactly the kind of person to tow the party line.

Sometimes David can be really hard on himself, saying things like "I don't think I've made a damn bit of difference." This makes me depressed because a) it's not true, and b) it sort of is true.

I like it when he tells stories because he is a gifted storyteller and he's had a pretty fascinating life. My favourite stories are the ones he tells about his childhood.

Did you know he and his family were sent to an internment camp in B.C. during the Second World War after the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbour (even though his parents were born and raised in Canada)? During the three years the Suzuki family was interned, David played in the mountains and fished with his dad. It's where his love of nature really took hold.

I like this story because it reminds me a little bit of my own childhood. Mostly just the part about fishing. When we were kids, my dad used to take us fishing every summer. It was never really about catching fish. It was more about being on the lake, listening to the silence, studying the rocks, enjoying the scenery.

My parents also liked to take us to Kortright Conservation Centre to walk in the forest and watch nature films. Most of our family photo albums are filled with pictures of my mom (her hair parted in the middle, two braids hanging down to her waist) stomping through the woods somewhere with my dad, who had one of us kids strapped to his back.

It was my parents who nurtured my love of the outdoors but it was David Suzuki who made me care about it. This happened when I was in Grade 10 and Mr. Ranucci was my science teacher. He was young and gorgeous and cool. I sat in the front row, right in the middle, directly in front of his desk. I think Mr. Ranucci was the first man I ever really loved. (It was unrequited love, of course.)

One day, Mr. Ranucci made us read an essay about the sad state of the world. The author was David Suzuki.

That essay changed the way I thought about things. I suddenly "got it." I've never actually told David this. Maybe he would like to hear it. I don't know. Maybe he's sick of hearing these kinds of stories. So maybe I'll just wish him a happy birthday instead.

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