Anthony Bourdain: The Man and the Myth.
It has now been two months since his death, and I am now just starting to come to grips to a world without Anthony Bourdain.
We live in a world today that prefers to buy the myth, and ignore the man. Built on the shaky pillars of escapism and envy, we as consumers of media prefer to be lied to. Never is this fact more evident than when a great man passes through our lives like Anthony Bourdain.
As a chef who became a writer, who became a television celebrity, Anthony Bourdain captured what it meant to live a life worth living. Having recovered from substance abuse addictions he set his sights on writing a book that he thought no one would read, and then transformed his writing successes into becoming a television star that none could have predicted. His life story seems to have it all: addiction, failure, hard work, redemption, luck and now tragedy.
For over sixteen years Anthony Bourdain brought the world to into our homes. Since the airing of his first television show in 2002 so many of us, myself included, relied on him to tell us where to go and why, what to eat and how to cook it. He was the one of the most charismatic men on television, period. Un-ashamed about his troubled past he reached out to the world around him by asking questions, shaking hands and breaking bread. And he was on television almost every week for sixteen years, without breaks, in almost every television market around the world.
As a society, we tend to feel a familiarity with people we see regularly on television. We often wrap up our own baggage in what we see through their carefully crafted and edited television. We can watch a celebrity like Anthony Bourdain traveling the world week in and week out and living an exotic life; and we quickly jump to conclusions about his perfect life. We can buy into the hype; we drink the cool aide. When someone is living the dream, we tend to buy in to the idea that their life is somehow ideal, and that they are exempt from all of life’s problems.
Increasingly we are learning that nothing could be further from the truth. With alarming frequency, the rich and famous, the talented, the gifted are falling by their own hand. Everything in life has a cost and the rich and the famous pay a disproportionate levy for their talent, their hard work and their luck. It is all too common that someone who we think “has it all” might wake up every day and feel like they are not enough, they might feel that they are letting everyone around them down, they might be living in fear and they might contemplate ending their life. To speak these truths as a celebrity may be the death of your career. To ask for help may show a weakness that the public misinterprets. To be vulnerable could mean the canceling of your show, or could risk turning off a director, producer or music label. And so mental illness and those suffering remain in the shadows. Leaving the public with the only the one-dimensional myth to buy in to.
Anthony Bourdain was a great talent. I count him as one of my inspirations for my own career. He will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. He is survived by his daughter.
If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.