Culture

Beautiful Bones

Anthony Bourdain is dead.

But you knew that already. Unless you were living under a rock today, you’ve already read the news. He killed himself in his hotel room in France. 

With it has come the litany of “if you need help” outpourings and social commentaries about the epidemic of suicide. Those are all fine messages. Likely worth digesting at some point. Years ago, I had a roommate who attempted suicide. When I picked him up from the hospital, alive, he told me not to spend any time rationalizing it. He was depressed, clinically so. And he simply felt so tired that death seemed logical. There was no other calculus.

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That’s all the time I’ve spent thinking about suicide. Of all the problems I’ve had in my life, wanting to end it hasn’t been one of them. As for Bourdain, he described himself as a “once unhappy soul” who struggled with addiction. The thing about us once unhappy souls is the closest most of us ever get to being happy, is acknowledging that our unhappiness is simply along for the ride.

Our version of happiness is making peace with the notion that the ride must go on anyway. I can imagine that at some point, that gets too hard. And so it’s time to get off the ride.

Anthony Bourdain got off the ride today. What’s effected me most about it isn’t the societal commentary of suicide. It’s the notion that he won’t be doing what he did before. And for that, we’re all worse off.

There was something about watching Tony Bourdain eat food. He didn’t so much eat it as he absorbed it; culturally.  The most basic product of any people is their food. Besides making our own replacements, the only thing we’ve ever needed produce is what we eat. Over thousands of years of sweat and toil and strife and experimentation, the product ended up on a plate in front of Tony on a broken table sitting on a plastic stool in some far off corner of the universe.

Watching his satisfaction, talking with a mouth full of food, motioning emphatically with a fork, was like validating the human purpose.

It was an honest thing in a dishonest world.

Bourdain once said of my home town of Atlantic City, that a place with beautiful bones, can always be beautiful again. What once was great, can always be great again.

What Anthony Bourdain produced was great. Selfishly I’m saddened that I won’t get to see it anymore. And it just didn’t feel right to let that pass without acknowledging it.

RIP Anthony Bourdain.

Categories: Culture

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6 replies »

  1. Our son struggled with anxiety and depression for years. He saw a therapist, tried multiple combos of medication, and worked in health care. He was a kind, caring, generous young man. He knew he was loved by family and friends. Unfortunately he did not like the groggy feeling the medications gave him and he would go off his medication or try to reduce the dosage on his own. Unfortunately this ultimately lead to his death. Our mental health care system needs a huge infusion of money to find ways to combat depression and other mental illness without the use of so many drugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. beautiful post. I didn’t watch a large amount of his show. Not because I didn’t enjoy the show. Life just too busy at times. However, I enjoyed watching it when I did. He was a brilliant man that was a food muse. I will miss him. I wish he could of stayed on the ride, but as you stated he figured it was time to get off. A family member of mine tried to commit suicide twice. She is medicated now and we hope with love, and counseling that will be enough. Thanks for this.

    Like

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