Anthony Bourdain: A Lesson in Taking Care of Ourselves
The first thing I hear people say when a famous person commits suicide is “they had it all, the money, the fame… why would they do that, I don’t understand?”
If you’re looking at things from a material perspective alone, then sure it makes absolutely no sense. But obviously the material is such an insignificant part of the happiness equation. Think about it, the guy was on the road his whole life. Hotel room after hotel room, far from loved ones, far from any sense of calm, baseline routine and most importantly; always on. He was a one man circus act on tour, forever.
Anthony Bourdain was loved by us all, he was an ambassador of the world, a class act, a bon vivant and someone we could count on. Apparently he took every selfie, signed every autograph and never disappointed a soul. From the outside the man was a saint and seemed strong like a bull, but on the inside he must’ve been so burnt out.
No matter what way you slice it, if you’re giving more than you’re receiving on an emotional or energetic level, you’ll be running at a deficit, and in terms of happiness, or peace of mind or whatever you want to call it, Anthony was running out of fuel. Perhaps the real Anthony Bourdain deep down inside just had enough of the show, but unfortunately was too far gone to see a better solution.
We don’t have to be famous to feel the burden of commitment and the impending stress and guilt attached to it, he, like us, is only human. A lifetime of saying yes doesn’t just disappear overnight. What started as a gesture of kindness or career move turns into routine and avalanches over time into an elephant so big it seems too much to bare, and most people resort to numbing themselves to try and just forget about it.
I come from a long line of good people whose “characters” were always there for others, always willing to help and never went back on their word, but those same characters never tended to their own needs. My professional career was no different, I picked up right where my father left off and myself turned into a character, always on the ball, always partying hard, and never saying no. Months turned into years and all I’d really done was destroy my health and set myself up for inevitable failure.
Luckily for me I chose to clear my mind and when I did I was able to learn from those before me, and I had the choice: repeat history or choose another path. It was difficult to “retire” my character, I had to disappoint everyone around me who came to trust what I’d been portraying for years, despite it never being the real me.
Anthony Bourdain, Robin Williams, a family member you know who fits the criteria… I don’t think they were as lucky as me because my elephant was still small, and I couldn’t begin to imagine what they were dealing with.
Seeing things from this perspective is the only productive way to look at it in my opinion. Tragedy happens all the time and if left un-analyzed then no learning can come from it. The lesson here is to try and understand what led Anthony Bourdain down the wrong path and applying that wisdom to our own lives.
He was wonderful to watch and the world loved him, and I believe if he took a little more time for himself he might still be here.
Talking about what we’re really thinking despite the fear of disappointing others is something that’s helped me tremendously. I do it in person, through my blog and through my music. I always feel better when I tell someone I have no idea what I’m doing, because we’re human and feel a lot of the same things. This kind of vulnerability opens a door that we may not have ever seen before.