I didn’t anticipate that Anthony Bourdain’s suicide last week would have any impact on me. I loved watching his show. I love to cook, but I don’t consider myself a foodie. I love to travel, but I don’t consider myself worldly.
Anthony allowed me to be a foodie and worldly from the comfort of my own home, but even that wasn’t what I really loved about watching his show. He had this quality that I envied. The quality where you would find yourself saying, “when I grow up, I want to be like him”, except I’m grown and I still want to be like him.
Anthony went to some great places in the world, and he went to some shit holes. What I loved about Anthony was no matter where he went, he found beauty. Usually, the beauty he found was in the people he met. A simple meal, great conversation, moments. That was the true beauty of his show.
He was able to show me what was really important in life. Not that I didn’t know, but it’s rare for a personality to do it in such a way where you felt like you were sitting at the table with him. In fact, you felt at any time he could be at your table and the show would work just as well.
It didn’t have to be some exotic, out of the way, locale. When he came to Detroit, he said he wanted to be from Detroit. Come on! No one really wants to be from Detroit! Anthony did. He was a rare creature that wanted to be from everywhere because he saw the beauty in everywhere.
It wasn’t naïve. He also saw the shit. He saw the awfulness, which made him appreciate the beauty in all places. That’s what I envied most I think. It’s easy to beauty in beautiful places, it’s hard to see beauty in the worst places.
In the end, we don’t get enough of the moments that Anthony was creating. Some good food, some great company, with real conversations where we listen to the beauty and the pain. Where we take the time to have a two-hour meal and just enjoy each other.
Years ago, one of my most favorite people in the world past away, Leo Buscaglia (the Love Doctor). It was another death that impacted me more than I thought it would. I just knew I would desperately miss him.
An interesting thing happened, though, in that I didn’t miss him. I carried him with me. When I re-read his books, I heard his voice reading them to me. I could watch his talks on YouTube. I have a feeling I won’t miss Anthony as much as I think, because I’ll watch endless re-runs of his show, and it will feel like he’s still here with me.
I’m happy to have found Anthony Bourdain, along with millions of others. My life is better for having known him, even if he didn’t know me. He taught me how to be a better traveler. A better person in a small way. I so appreciate this.
I mourn for his friends and family that knew him intimately. For his daughter, that will spend a lifetime wondering why, and never being able to find an answer. I hope his death will save others, and maybe inspire all of us to sit down with friends more often and break bread and share a glass.
Regardless, I still want to be Anthony Bourdain…