I’m still reeling about Anthony Bourdain’s death. I’m horribly sad about it. He was my generation’s Hunter S. Thompson and he wrote so fiercely and passionately with such vigor that he got me to give a shit about food and travel writing when I did not care.
As someone struggling with depression what I’m learning here from Bourdain, Sylvia Plath, Thompson, and David Foster Wallace is unclear. Other than that we all have our Shadow Kings that victimize us, make us feel worthless, no matter what we do and say to combat it.
But Bourdain described himself as an enthusiast, and I think that’s the lesson I’ll take from him: be enthusiastic about your life. Be in it. Try new things. And most of all: go outside of your comfort zone. That’s what makes life interesting.
At the same time, looking at what he wrote and what he did on his shows. It’s hard not see the self-destructive behavior. That he was clearly showing that he was searching for community. Something that brought people together despite the very, very dark shit happening around them. For him that unifying principle was food. And yet he never stuck around in any community. He called himself a New Yorker, and yet spent at least fifty percent of his time not even in New York where his community–his family was. I imagine his life was quite lonely and was only ever truly at his best when on set or writing or reading. But reading over his work over the past two weeks, I think he was reaching out and asking for help with every word he typed and every episode that aired and every bite of god-knows-what he swallowed.
I’m not sure what I think. I’m grateful for his desire to learn, to bring people together over food, and to get out of one’s comfort zone. He’s one of the reasons that I tore the band aid off my anxiety over cooking. I loved reading him and his infectious intellectual curiosity, enthusiasm for food, people, and community was intoxicating. But he was starved for that last word. Maybe he’s found it. Maybe he never found it and that’s why he’s gone now. But that enthusiasm lives on and I am going to do my best to be that enthusiastic about my life and work in the way he did. I’m grateful for my life, Bourdain and his work, and tomorrow.