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Hello. I'm Sean and I live in Japan. I'm glad you've come because I need you to do something for me.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Marty Stouffer's Delicious Narrative

When I was a kid I loved nature documentaries. They weren't just something that I watched on television, or programs that I simply enjoyed more than others, but instead an obsession. In the days before we got satellite, when the antennae was in place and cable didn't reach the remote side roads of our township; when internet was a thing done over the phone and I got about as much normal mail as email, we got one really specific nature documentary on our limited array of channels: Wild America with Marty Stouffer.

The show cultured a very homegrown backyard feel that focused on wildlife specific to North America, and although it contained a few healthy dollops of the old 'Ra! Ra!' pro-American sentiment, the propaganda was lost on a youth that simply didn't care beyond the mountain goats. Sure there were no lions, elephants or sharks, but the exclusion of everything that didn't exist on my continent made every animal seem that much more attainable. These things could be in my back yard. Wild America could be my world. To top it all off it was narrated by Marty, who's voice seemed thick and rich enough to be served as a meal. Now you can understand my real sense of wonder with this show, as it was done before I could go on the web and have everything at my fingertips. Marty Stouffer's thick tongued narration of the wildlife of my conceivable world was my greatest portal to nature.

The withholding of this show was actually a good way to motivate and punish me. I can recall several nights of no Wild America being used to set me straight. You didn't have to tell me no television, ground me or discipline me further. It was enough. I'm not trying to come across as someone that was a fiend for television, or that I spent too much time watching it in my youth. What I'm really trying to make clear is that there have been times in my life that I have really truly cared about something less tangible than an object or a person; but instead in a goal, future or ideal. The world of Wild America was the one I wanted to become a part of.

Fast forward to today and I have a hard time finding that feeling. I like some things and love some people, but that deep seeded passion that ever existed in me, fired in me, offering me any sort of great drive or motivation seems to flicker at best, and not be present at worst.

There are things I would like to do, things I will do, and perhaps things I think I'd like to do because I'm stalling for time. Yet I have a hard time finding anything in my life that I have ever truly thrown my all into. My schooling never saw it, and I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that most employers to date have not seen me properly motivated.

I'd like to say that the pure enthusiasm for nature is eventually what led me down the road to my biology degree, but I can say that it is no secret that my beginnings in biochem at Guelph University were a byproduct of my top two high school grades being Biology and Chemistry. So when did it go? What killed it and how?

Stepping back, I'd like to suggest that this is bigger than me. Perhaps more a sign of the times than any specific problem with myself. In this age of North American consumeristic excess, the media likes to play up the angle of do less for more. On the internet, television and radio, everything is gratification now for a fee to be delivered later. Instant reward for delayed or ultimately avoided work.

The discovery stories of hidden talents and the serendipitous tales of big lotto winners perforate the news, and help move along this idea that the universe owes us something, or that we're due for our break and we just need to wait it out. The entitlement of the current generation is staggering, and although I get urges of it, I feel like by acknowledging the absurdity of some universal debt to me here and now I have a better chance of moving down a better course. The fact remains though: I cringe at the thought of the work-a-day life.

In my opinion people can be roughly split into very clear categories, and they generally go something like this: 1) those who know what they want and how to get it, 2) those who have no clue what they want and settle at first sign of stability and, 3) those like me who have no idea what they want but refuse to settle for anything; and instead slot in one plan after another waiting for either something to click or a handout from the cosmos so that they can join the first group.

I guess to sum up, I am blaming the world for my problems. Cliche, a little. It's just that some days it seems strange to feel like the only person in Brownian motion while the rest of society appears to flow downstream. I sometimes wonder if this truly unrelenting need to always feel like I'm working towards something is an inherently North American attribute, or a human condition. For the record I am going to Japan, and that counts as a thing I am working towards. I am excited. I am motivated to do well, and to give it my all and try my best. But then what?

I like writing, maybe I'll work towards that too.

Thanks for reading,

Much Love,


Doesn't this just reek of American small town values and patriotism? Hahaha! I love it.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Sean. This was fun. I had the same reaction to Marty's predecessors, Jacques Cousteau and Marlin Perkins, and you stated my feelings well. Not just about the effect that inspirational figures have in the obvious way, but also in the kind of sweet ambiguity Stouffer brought to your life. I get it.