Anthony Bourdain: Chef, Writer, TV travel show host. A role model.
Here is what I wrote about Anthony Bourdain on June 8th, 2018 in a journal entry: Another person I idolized was found dead by his own doing. Anthony Bourdain, dead at age 61. Bourdain joins Robin Williams, and Chester Bennington as cultural icons that I admired… All dead from suicide. Despite seeming to have it all, none could continue living. Depression makes it seem like it will never go away. Like there is no point to life. Maybe there isn’t, but when in the darkness, you feel the weight of its nothingness. Welcome to the suicide generation…
I tried to write a post on June 8th this year, but couldn’t. Instead I turned to cooking for comfort. I turned my horror at the world that week into a present for a friend. (Which she said was exactly what she was craving… Really chocolatey brownies) Anthony Bourdain ended his life by suicide. A tragedy as suicide always is. I’d rather celebrate his life, his birthday, today June 25th. While alive he taught me through his travel shows how to cook dishes from around the world, and showed me what a big world we live in. To be honest, I haven’t yet read Kitchen Confidential, the book he is most known for, (I finally bought it last night on Audible!) and which gave him a second career in his 40s.
He opened my eyes to the world through food. He was no nonsense, tell it like it is, not afraid to swear, adventurous, and compassionate. He could sit down, eat, and talk with anyone from former president Barack Obama to rock stars, to local people in any country. It’s been two years since he died, and this year is the first time I’m not sad by his death. He was a role model to me. A model of how to be a good human being, a good man, an example that you can be successful from nothing later in life. Him dying, and from suicide hit especially hard because I struggle with depression, and had close calls with suicide before. I hope his tragic death was a wake up call to others who looked up to him, who also struggled with depression and suicide.
To my friends and family that read this blog: It’s hard to admit I have been suicidal before. It’s not something I wish anyone to feel. Depression is hell. Yet many people struggle with it in silence. I’m feeling like I fit in with the world for the first time in a long time, right now in quarantine, which is strange. All the feelings others are experiencing now… The fear of dying, the paranoia, the fear of the unknown future, feeling confined, trapped, lonely, anger, frustration, and despair is what it feels like to be suicidal. Sometimes my fight with it feels like a Muay-Thai fight. You survived, but I’m sore, worn out, exhausted. But I’m alive. I’m so grateful that I haven’t done it, because as strange and stressful this year has been, I’ve never felt closer or more connected to you and the world. Ironic since we are stuck at home. Therefore I need to apologize. I’m sorry I never told you. That I didn’t reach out in my darkest moments. It’s impossible when fighting it to think of anything else. It creates a dark tunnel where you see nothing else but the void. The hard part is that you “think” you have to break out of this darkness alone when you are vulnerable. Which is a lie. Thankfully I have a therapist I fit with now, which was the major reason I haven’t received the help I’ve needed for years for my depression. That is not having a therapist I click with, or the therapist leaving for many reasons. You can’t do therapy without a consistent therapist, or one you don’t click with like a friend.
If nothing else, in my darkest moments, it’s 1 more reason to live. He taught me that everyone has an impact on others even if it isn’t clear to the person in the darkness struggling with mental illness. It ‘s hard to watch the later seasons of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown because you could physically see the toll on him. Watching his shows helped me become a better cook, a better person, a creative mind I could emulate. Gave me hope that I could still be successful later in life, despite struggling professionally.
My mother and I went to Rainier BBQ (https://www.rainierrestaurant.com/) that Friday for dinner after I found out it happened. The place was filled. It was the first time I had been there before. I ordered the Beef Ong Choy salad, which Bourdain had while filming the segment there for his tv show The Layover some other dishes which were delicious. A person at another table told a server working there about Anthony Bourdain, and she cried. I still haven’t watched the final episode of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. Thank you Anthony Bourdain. Rest in Peace.
“Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom…is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.”
― Anthony Bourdain”
Songs of the post:
Across 110th street by Bobby Womack
Anemone by The Brian Jonestown Massacre
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