The Lessons of Anthony Bourdain

I was a huge fan of Anthony Bourdain. I wrote on my Facebook page that to me he represented an amalgam of the personalities and characters of people I met while living and traveling abroad. I have always had a nomadic spirit, and when I watched episodes of No Reservations it stoked an already burning desire to explore new places, peoples, and cultures. I suppose I saw my approach to the world as similar to his, though on a much, much smaller scale. I frequently related to the scenes where he dined and drank and laughed and philosophized and drank some more, always in a new locale. It was as though we were existing in parallel universes (mine not nearly as cool as his, of course).

So it hit me pretty hard when I learned of his death; doubly so when I heard that it was by suicide, as I too went through a deep, dark period of uncontrollable depression a few years ago and I saw up close how threatening it can be.

No one will ever really know what exactly was going through his head in the moment he made that severe, irreversible decision to end his life, but on some level I think I can imagine what he felt. Because he was a man who possessed such passion and curiosity about the world, it’s hard to understand why he would opt to remove himself from it; but on the other hand, such intense passion and curiosity bring with them high expectations, and when depression takes over the mind it becomes increasingly difficult to have those expectations met – no matter how exotic the next day suggests itself to be. Finally, I suppose, one reaches a place where you are convinced those expectations will never again be met and, that being the case, what’s the point of carrying on?

I’ll miss Anthony Bourdain; especially with the state the world is in today. I’ve heard more than a few people say that. Now more than ever we really could have used his inspiration and his example. But what’re ya gonna do?

Actually, I’ll tell you what I’m gonna do – I’m going to do what I think he probably wanted us all to do. I’m going to read more, learn more, watch more movies about the human existence, take more culinary risks, travel more, move more, delve more deeply into the stories of other cultures, look more closely into the eyes of those people in faraway places we hear about in the news. Strive to understand more. Celebrate more what we share in common.

Live in the moment. Appreciate our shared existence.

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