The news of Anthony Bourdain’s death by suicide hit many people, including me, with a wave of sadness. More than just shock, this one has evoked a lot of heartache. Why? Because he was you, and me, and him and her.
Though I didn’t watch his “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” show regularly, I caught it often enough to know that I liked the guy. He was real, unapologetic, inquisitive, intelligent, caring, raw and authentic. Combine that kind of human being with food and travel to places most of us will never see, and, well, you have a winner. Most of us could relate to this man on some level.
No, none of us “regular folk” get to travel the world, eat exotic food, and get paid to do it. Not all of us have struggled with addiction like he has. But we ALL have felt or will feel, at some point in our lives, the way he surely felt at the time he decided to end it all; lonely, hurt, disconnected, and lost.
They say he was actually introverted and just happened to have a very public job. He was surely a highly sensitive soul; one who felt deeply both extremes of pleasure and pain. One who experienced massive highs and massive lows. One who was on a search, very obviously. His quest to discover “parts unknown” and through food, seek answers to the questions underlying the human condition such as “what connects us?” was a reflection of the inner quest which is now left for completion in another lifetime.
This inner quest is one we all have: The quest to know ourselves. To discover our “parts unknown”, that we may sew them all together into one whole version of ourselves which makes some kind of sense. Chances are Tony, as his friends and colleagues called him, wished he had answers to the questions “Who am I?”, “Where do I come from?” and “What’s this life all about?”
Like a boat without an anchor, he set off to explore these issues the only way he knew how, through an outward and externally-driven search for meaning. I’m betting he didn’t find anything out there that could anchor and root him in a feeling of certainty and connection.
Had he an established sense of true identity, knowing that he was one with everyone and everything, an expression of the One Life, the pain he felt might have been bearable enough for him to reach out (and up) for help.
There’s an announcement running currently on CNN (in relation to suicide prevention) in which an anchor says that any of them would have “moved Heaven and Earth” to help him. How sad that he didn’t know that. Or that he was anguished to the point of not even wanting help. He just wanted out; badly enough to be willing to leave his daughter without a father.
You’ve surely heard it before:
THE ONLY WAY OUT IS THROUGH
You can’t find what you’re looking for outside of yourself. And you don’t have to do it alone. There are people who can guide you, point the way and lead you toward the Truth that lies within you.
I’m not discounting the issue of “mental health” which is all the talk right now, as it should be. I acknowledge, as one who’s experienced it myself, that chemical imbalance is a reality. That genetics do have a role to play. That trauma and life experience does have an influence over our state of mind. Depression, anxiety and the whole slew of “diseases” which in the mainstream fall into the category of mental health are no joke when you live in this world.
BUT (you knew there had to be a “but”) there is more to it. Once the chemical imbalance has been stabilized, once the traumas have been healed, the larger issues must be addressed. The health of the person’s heart and soul needs to be considered and treated just as seriously as the restoration of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain. The alignment of the body-mind with the Soul and of the Soul with the Source would be a good starting and finishing point. All sense of separation and disconnection would be healed.
If only he could have felt the fullness of the Life within him, even for a moment.
If only he could have known the unconditional Love that was his birthright.
If only he could have realized the Presence of the One that is the Source of all.
I can bet all the food and plane tickets in the world that he would still be with us. Take care, Mr. Bourdain. May you rest in the Truth and Love of your very own Being.