Damn you Anthony Bourdain.
Death is one thing, inevitable, unavoidable, the only thing we all have in common but self-inflicted death is quite another. And at 61, when your career and health seem OK, WTF?
You were that guy we turned to whenever we needed a mini-staycation. Can’t think of what to watch? Go to Vietnam and have lunch with Obama or Sicily and watch you mentally implode over the guy tossing dead octopi in the water or learn why Iggy Pop does your theme song. Much more than travel, you helped explain the human condition and the sociology of the world. You built bridges, you loved people and food and drink and you helped us understand that we have more similarities than differences.
Plus you could have written that, “Fine Art Of Not Giving A F*ck” book. Your voice was honey badger fierce, outspoken and raw and honest. That voice will be missed.
And I want more. Just like all the other tortured geniuses that I’ve loved and lost, the exit is too soon. Robin Williams, Spaulding Grey, Hunter Thompson, Kurt Cobain you were all 1 in a million and I’m sorry you didn’t know that. Your demons won, the rest of the world lost.
I get the torture. I get that mental illness is overpowering. I saw Nirvana a couple of months before Cobain put a shotgun to his face and he was not well. He spent the entire set at the Oakland Arena in one place, not moving until after the encore when he walked behind the drum riser and flopped into the drum set. Heroin, stomach pain, dysfunctional relationships, his was not an easy road but sometimes the bumps in life are essential, setting us apart and feeding our creativity.
Also, you seemed to be past all that Anthony. New girlfriend, 11 year-old daughter, show doing well, no visible signs of addiction or depression. I guess it’s a lesson to us all that life is fragile and short and confusing.
But come on, how are the rest of us not-so-brilliantly-talented-or-successful-people supposed to continue if you can’t figure out a way to go on? The journey contains struggle and the struggle makes you stronger provided you get back up. I get that the struggle can overwhelm but I also get that the sun will come up tomorrow.
“What’s for dessert?” is my favorite line from “The Big Chill” spoken by William Hurt’s tortured character when everything is getting heavy following the suicide of his friend. If you haven’t seen the movie in a while, watch it again, it holds up well. It means that life goes on, cry, feel, learn, grow but know that the sun will rise tomorrow.
We are all miracles, you, me, Anthony, Kurt, Robin, Spaulding, Hunter, all babies once, and all with a finite endpoint. I believe that we have a responsibility to do good in this life, to make the world a better place, to create art and music and laughter and things that help our fellow humans live better lives.
Wanna start today? I have a simple strategy (shocking right…). Go to the dump. Both the literal dump and the philosophical dump. We all have too much shit, too much baggage, too many old pillows (I counted 22 the other day), and it’s time to purge.
Get rid of any clothes you haven’t worn in a year. Clean house, clean your desk, clean your room, get rid of all the broken stuff and stop worrying about the past. Yes, I felt a little guilty throwing away that broken Zither that I was going to fix and learn to play but really, taking it to the dump has freed up a little part of my brain that was making me feel guilty for not learning the instrument.
That goes for life choices too. Are there people and experiences making you feel crappy about yourself? Purge, purge, purge. Surround yourself with people who create art and music and laughter because they will lift you up. Look honestly at your life and make a list of what needs to go to the dump.
And if life is totally overwhelming reach out and be honest about what you are feeling. Call a friend, post on social media, talk with professionals, and get help because WE ARE ALL FIGHTING THE DEMONS.
Damn you Anthony Bourdain.