If you hadn’t heard already, legendary television host, chef, traveller, and author Anthony Bourdain committed suicide this morning at the age of 61. Normally I don’t really cover celebrity deaths unless they actually meant something to me. Anthony Bourdain meant something to me. Meant a lot to me, actually.
It’s a trivial thing, but I played football in high school, and every summer during two-a-days I would find a random show to watch in-between sessions. It helped me decompress and develop a (somewhat) soothing routine that kind of got me through some rough weeks. My sophomore year (first year of double sessions), it was American Chopper. Junior year it was Bizarre Foods. Senior year it was No Reservations. I had seen various promos for No Reservations before, but never actually tuned in. I had seen food shows and travel shows before, why would this be any different? It turns out it was way different than anything I had ever watched. The way he talked, the way he interacted with the environment around him just spoke to me. It felt like it was a real couple days in the life of a traveller, not another heavily scripted reality show.
I was hooked instantly, and, the more I watched No Reservations and Parts Unknown the more I considered Bourdain an idol of mine. I had always loved food and been interested in traveling, but he stoked a desire to experience the world through food that still exists today (even if I’m too
poor scared to actually act on it). The way he could naturally bond with everyone around him and his complete openness to try new things were kind of a blueprint for how I, an extreme introvert with the people skills of a paper bag, could theoretically live my life. He made the world seem like a less scary place, and he showed that, regardless of where you live or what language you speak or what food you eat, everyone’s really just looking for the same thing. Which, of course, was the entire point of the show.
And more than anything, he was just so cool. He might have been one of the five coolest guys to ever live. Which just shows what a bear depression really is. I won’t insult people who are really suffering by saying I know exactly how they feel, but I know how hard it is to deal with. It’s not real depression or anything, but I frequently deal with bouts of overwhelming sadness and self-doubt, but since I’m too scared or embarrassed to talk to other people about it, it just kind of festers for a few days. Again, I’ve never been suicidal or felt like there was no way out of the tunnel, but I still sympathize with anyone who feels crushed by the weight of the world. Don’t be like me. If you’re ever feeling low, or trapped, or scared that there’s only one way to end the pain, reach out to someone. There are countless suicide prevention hotlines out there you can call. Or better yet, talk to a friend or family member. Sometimes it’s good to just talk to someone you know. You might think you’re burdening them, but believe me, anyone who cares about you would never think that way. No one should ever feel like there’s no way out.
RIP Anthony Bourdain.