Every time I hear about a suicide I hurt. While I have never been suicidal myself, I have been so unhappy with my life that starvation seemed like an appropriate response. And some of my closest friends have encountered similar struggles, where everything in life feels impossible. So, I know the pain, and I know how difficult it can be to love someone who is feeling that pain.
I have been particularly torn up about Anthony Bourdain though. It’s not that I was a huge fan of Bourdain’s; I never watched his TV shows and I’ve read only a few chapters of Kitchen Confidential. (I do watch a lot of CNN though, so I’ve seen enough commercials for his shows to last me a lifetime.)
Maybe a week ago my boyfriend joked with me, after seeing another Parts Unknown commercial, “What will happen when Bourdain has visited everywhere in the world?” To which I responded, “He will always find new places.”
And I suppose it hurts so much to hear that Bourdain is gone because it means that even the man who got to travel the world, meeting new people, exploring new places, and trying new foods, couldn’t do it anymore. He had seen enough. He had had enough. There was nowhere else he thought he could go, so he left.
Aside from that sad realization – that even the most privileged and free among us can feel vulnerable and trapped – I liked that Bourdain was a bad ass who didn’t seem to give any fucks, and wasn’t afraid to voice unpopular opinions. I like to think that I don’t give too many fucks, and he exuded a confidence that did not verge into condescending narcissism.
I’ve read a ton of think pieces now about Bourdain, and many of them mentioned how he taught Americans to explore beyond our comfort zone. His show was a great demonstration of how much we actually have to bond over, despite all the rhetoric and noise that tells us we should isolate ourselves from anyone who is different.
On top of Bourdain genuinely being interested in other people and their lives, Bourdain care about the people who are so often overlooked in the restaurant industry. He cared about the migrant workers. He cared about the busboys and the dishwashers. Even more than that, Bourdain was self-aware enough to know that he had made mistakes, and wanted to correct for them. He used his privilege to stand up for others. And in a world of negativity and selfishness, it’s reassuring to know that there are still people who care for others.
I didn’t know Anthony Bourdain. I wouldn’t even really consider myself a big fan. But I’m going to spend some time over the next few days thinking about the good that he did and how much he cared. And remind myself that it’s often those who care so much, who are giving so much of themselves, are hurting themselves.
Reach out if you need help or have help to give.