It’s not often that I pay attention to celebrities, nor anything remotely “Hollywood”, especially growing up in LA, where I’ve seen it all and don’t buy into the so-called glitter or pomp and circumstance of the whole tabloid circus. For me, it’s bullshit. It’s not real. But, this past week, I found myself reflecting on how I am actually impacted by the passing of one of those celebs, Anthony Bourdain.
Strangely, but profoundly, I’m troubled by this man’s death. It’s odd…I’ve never met him. Although I would have loved to experienced a meal and relished a conversation over a bowl of noodles anywhere with him, it’s not like that was my dream. I’ve also been a great fan of his show through the years and found it quite inspirational. But, none of that is the real reason as to why his passing affects me.
I think that I am bothered by his death mostly because he could be me. He could be you. He could be any of us. And yet he wasn’t. He did what he wanted, what he was passionate about. I’m bothered by the fact his passion, his search for humanity couldn’t fuel his desire to live. He never stopped believing in people, in the world as a whole and that good things are possible, pretty much anywhere. He overcame addiction, didn’t look for celebrity, it just found him. It found him because he’s the real deal, he’s what people are looking for…themselves. We found a mirror through him that showed redemption can be found in your own backward or via an empanada far away. But with all that said, the richness of life, of travel, of people and exploration that he shared with us, that richness, that vibrancy was just not enough…
Bourdain showed us that travel is not about five-star hotels and thousand dollar meals. It’s about finding your inner self locally, being uncomfortable in the world around you, exploring your inner demons and testing yourself through travel.
The way he shared his own demons, his inner thoughts, his hopes and worries with anyone he met along the road made us feel like we too were sitting there and taking part. There was no frilliness to it, he spoke his mind. He showed us his and others humanity. He didn’t give a crap about what your parents said…”don’t discuss politics and religion”, those are topics that the world wants to discuss! He provoked the uncomfortable feelings of it all, he embraced it. He expressed the freedom that we all dream of, aspire to and are inspired by…but still it wasn’t enough.
So now, with the passing of this man, this real fellow traveler, this vibrant human being whom I only know from his show, through what I read and via his interviews, I am affected, but also deeply inspired. I feel that my travels should free me further. My travels should push my own limits of comfort, provoke me, force me to think, to feel, to understand my world better. That’s how you and I will really find out who we are…
My new mantra in life is that travel is not always pretty, but it is pretty amazing.
Thank you Anthony Bourdain for your perspective, your humanity, your provocation and most of all for your inspiration of this great planet we all call home.