Thank You, Anthony Bourdain

The first time I watched Anthony Bourdain was during college. I was hungry for knowledge. I had this insatiable desire to expand, grow, and become this person I always felt I could become. I wanted to see the world and through it, come to understand humankind. At the time, I had yet to go abroad and watching Anthony Bourdain on his travels made me feel like I was part of it too. After coming back from that incredible summer in Spain, his episode on Madrid cured my reverse culture shock and made me take that leap of faith to move there to teach.

 

To try and put into words what Anthony Bourdain meant to so many around the world would be impossible. It’s been a hard few weeks for many, myself included. There are many thoughts that have crossed my mind during this time, several that won’t go away, so I thought I would share them and hope that they help alleviate some pain, even if it’s only my own.

 

If there's one thing that I learned it’s that we need to strengthen the bonds between us more than ever. As happy and proud of myself as I’ve been to have started my life coaching business, these last six months have been some of the most difficult in my life. Just when you think you’ve mastered self-care, starting your own business tests that, along with other challenges that pop up along the way. When things became difficult, I would reach out to friends to express how down I had been feeling, only to be met with unanswered texts or messages that said, “let’s catch up soon”, only “soon” never came.

 

People assume that because you have a smile on your face it doesn’t mean there isn’t pain behind it. Losing Anthony Bourdain is a reminder to check on all of your friends, not just the ones you assume are lonely and depressed. Often, those who seem the strongest and most positive are suffering in silence. We spend so much time being strong for others that we have a hard time asking others to be strong for us. In honoring Anthony Bourdain, many have been posting resources for those who may find themselves hurting as much as he was. While the suicide hotline and other resources are absolutely necessary and life-saving, I wanted to offer up a different solution. Loneliness is an epidemic and there is only one way to stop it:

 

Heal loneliness through human kindness and connection.

 

We are very quick to hand off the problems of our community to others, when in reality it's all of us who have the means to support each other. As someone whose father came very close to taking his life nearly ten years ago, I know first hand that the thing that has helped him the most was feeling that he was part of a community, having those he could openly be vulnerable with, and not feeling judged when things got tough. It hasn’t been an easy road to recovery, but he’s had great support.

 

When we don’t strive for understanding, we lose our humanity.

 

The last presidential election left us fractured, not just politically. Many have completely stopped trying to understand what the other side has to say, but often, we are quick to judge and vilify, without reaching for true comprehension. When my dad, an outspoken, working-class liberal was on his journey to sobriety, it was his conservative friends that were there every step of the way. When I’ve been on the brink of losing myself, I didn’t find support in a motivational tweet, I found it in the 30 minutes someone took to reach out to me. That someone was usually thousands of miles away. 

 

Maybe that’s part of the reason why Anthony Bourdain’s passing hurts so much. He looked past the differences and straight into the soul of others most have written off. He highlighted humanity in the most beautiful and simplest of ways. He was authentic; he spoke from the heart and listened with it too. He had a hunger for knowledge, to understand people at their core. I’m going to honor him the best way I know how: stay curious, stay hungry, and find that one thing that connects us to one another.

 

If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean or simple across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody. Open your mind, get off the couch, move.
— Anthony Bourdain