Anthony Bourdain - How Could Someone Who Appeared To Have It All, Feel So Empty & Alone?
Anthony Bourdain was an idol/hero of mine since I first saw him on his TV show "No Reservations" in 2005. He was a smart, cool and witty guy, who seemed to have the perfect job and an amazingly fun and adventurous life. I would often sit at home on the couch watching "No Reservations", and then later on "The Layover" and "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown", vicariously living my own version of a jet-setting life through Bourdain's many travels and escapades. He seemed like such a fun-loving and down-to-earth guy, and his lack of facade and jovial candor always made his travels feel more real and personable to me... he had many qualities that are typically sorely lacking in most so-called "reality TV" shows. It was like I was right there with him, traveling the world in style with a great friend.
I was on my way to work just a week ago today when I heard the devastating news that Anthony Buordain had passed away while filming his TV show in France, and even worse yet, it was unbelievably (at least to me) due to an apparent suicide. It was shocking and gut-wrenching for me to think of how someone, who appeared to have all of the elements of what I would personally consider to be a near-perfect life, could have possibly come to the conclusion that his life was no longer worth living. It just didn't make any sense to me - was all of what he had managed to attain in his life still not enough for him to feel true happiness? Was there something that was so incredibly painful in his past/current life, that all of the successes, life experiences, personal freedom and love that he had managed to attain in life could still not overcome?
Bourdain's passing hit me harder than that of any person whom I didn't personally know had ever done before, even more so than the untimely passing of my lifelong idol Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead in 1995. While Jerry's death was most certainly tragic and has had a lasting impact in my life even up until today, Bourdain's death was much more unsettling and agonizing for me personally. I profoundly respected and revered both men, and I held both of them up as shining examples of the life and lasting legacy that one person can achieve through persistence, hard work and overcoming the adversities in one's life. The fact that, despite the outward appearance of living a happy, complete life and having "made it", Bourdain still did not attain true happiness in life and in reality had some very major demons deep down inside. He was someone who I've always thought had made it to the point where his years of perseverance though his many years of uncertainty, personal strife and pain had finally paid off and resulted in a sort of personal nirvana and joy, was really so empty and broken inside that he felt his life was no longer worth living. I've come to the realization that the hopes and dreams I've always had for my life, which Anthony Bourdain seemed to embody, could end up being so hollow and empty when they were finally attained. It's really shaken me to the core to think that some of my main aspirations and life goals could really turn out to be empty promises that I've fooled myself into believing to be the key to true happiness and joy in one's life.
Here's a few of Bourdain's quotes that I've found to be particularly insightful into his life and his struggles, and how he really felt about himself deep down inside...
“I don’t know about ‘charmed.’ But I’m still here — on my third life, or maybe fourth. Who knows? I should’ve died in my 20s. I became successful in my 40s. I became a dad in my 50s. I feel like I’ve stolen a car — a really nice car — and I keep looking in the rearview mirror for flashing lights. But there’s been nothing yet.”
“Friends of mine from the ‘70s and ‘80s, they just got off five, six, maybe 10 years ago. And we’re the lucky ones. We made it out alive.”
“I was an unhappy soul with a huge heroin and then crack problem. I hurt, disappointed, and offended many, many, many people and I regret a lot. It’s a shame I have to live with.”
“Most people who kick heroin and cocaine have to give up on everything,” Bourdain wrote in his first book. “Maybe because my experiences were so awful in the end, I’ve never been tempted to relapse. You see me drink myself stupid on my show all the time. And I have a lot of fun doing that. But I’m not sitting at home having a cocktail. Never, ever. I don’t ever drink in my house … When I indulge, I indulge. But I don’t let it bleed over into the rest of my life.”
“I’m not going to get a lot of sympathy from people, frankly,” he said on an episode of Parts Unknown. “I mean, I have the best job in the world, let’s face it. I go anywhere I want, I do what I want. That guy over there loading sausages onto the grill, that’s work. This is not so bad. It’s alright. I’ll make it.”
You were a shining light to many who will be sorely missed! May you find everlasting peace now that you've left this mortal world!