Anthony Bourdain left our shared kind of existence today. I’d say this is the first “celebrity” death that has affected me enough to bring me to tears. This experience of lamenting the death of someone you really don’t know, someone you never met, and someone you most probably would have never sat down to have a beer with is a new and strange feeling for me.
The biggest and most obvious reason, why it attacks my heart’s strings. Not caring to even pull at them and just tears them apart leaving only a wasteland behind, is that late last year my father passed away. Making me realize how much it can hurt, no one really knows this until they go through it. A pain so deep that I haven’t really known how to deal with it, drowning it by consuming some sort of distraction continuously: playing video games, reading a novel, listening to endless podcasts, watching all sorts of youtube videos and shutting off myself from the world that is close to me. Reason why when someone dies in this world it affects me way more. My mind inevitably goes to the family members and close friends that are left behind, knowing that most likely they are feeling the sort of pain that I have been feeling since my father’s death. The sort of pain I wouldn’t wish on anyone. It brings me to tears that this is happening continuously all around the world, and we have been going through it all through our existence as a species.
That is a more generic and all encompassing reason of why death in general gets me worked up. But there are other more specific reasons of why Bourdain´s death stands out to me even more.
When I was 19 years old, a year had gone by since I had moved to Chile, from my hometown Cancun, Mexico in the pursuit of the love I felt for a girl. In Chile I started to study the thing I thought I liked or was interested the most in at the moment, psychology. When I discovered how much I hated college and didn’t like the act of studying psychology, mixed in with other factors, I fell in a deep depressive state. I didn’t leave my room for the good part of 3 months, dropping out of college. What slowly pulled me out of that state was my girlfriend at the time, but also that something else picked my curiosity and interest, something that my father had always taught us about and shared. Food and how it’s an expression or result of history and culture, and how traveling can enrich your knowledge about this. Programs on television that were playing at that time expanded on this for me, the main one being a program Anthony was in. Fast forward some years and I can call myself a professional cook, him being one of the main reasons for why I have been doing this.
Bourdain was someone I was inspired by and looked up to. He was a great writer, narrator, storyteller, he had done well in the food business, was always trying to learn, got to hang out with people that are some of the best at what they do, be that chefs that run 3 star michelin restaurants, or a guy that makes kickass barbecued pork. He was good at and doing almost everything I am still interested in to this day and wish I could be proficient at.
During these past years I have been continuously haunted with depressive tendencies and have fallen deep and not so deep into it, never as deep as when I was 19, but it’s always a looming presence. This takes me to the last reason I will cover.
Bourdain killed himself.
He had achieved almost everything I could dream of achieving, living the life I would like to live. Believing how that life would be amazing, and that I could be closer towards being content if I had access to everything he had done and achieved.
Going through this exalted state of constant sorrow and hurt that my father’s death (him being depressed as well) has brought upon me, has put doubt in my mind if what I have done in my life is even worth it, or that if I will ever be O.K. with my existence as a human. I always thought that if I was only good enough at X, that if I worked out and got to be better looking, if I found someone to have a deep and meaningful relationship with, if I have my good friends close by…
Bourdain had done almost everything I thought I might need to be content with myself and still decided to do what he did at the end. So what should I do so that I don’t travel that same road? Will I ever be able to manage, to hold at bay the looming shadow in me? Will the harsh conditions in kitchens destroy me, like I sometimes feel they do? Will any profession make me happy doing it?
I just keep going on, hoping that someday I will be O.K. emotionally. Seeing that my father couldn’t figure it out, and that someone like Bourdain couldn’t either makes me wonder if I will be able to.
All I can hope is that both, my father and Anthony can at last feel how that weight that pushed them down is freed off their shoulders.