Anthony Bourdain is dead at 61. He killed himself.
Over and over and more, all over the newspapers, on the internet, in my mind.
I’m surprised by how his passing away has affected me. I never hero worshipped him nor was a rabid fan. I did enjoy watching his show on TLC when ever I could, it was entertaining.
He was a skilled storyteller who could combine the elements of local connections, culture and cuisine into a heady mix. If I didn’t know better, I’d say he was more of an explorer than a celebrity chef.
Maybe it was because of how he came across on his show- sure, confident, humorous, bantering with his friend or just musing, comfortable squatting on a rickety stool or at a fine dining table; much of it felt spontaneous rather than scripted. Maybe that was his charm. He was handsome, successful and could dish out pretty solid advice.
Do I remember seeing him maniacal in any of his appearances?
He was always the levelheaded guy and old enough to know better. He was still working, shooting in France yet he decided to take his life.
Was he lonely in spite of being surrounded by people? Was he disenchanted with his success?
I don’t know but I’m disturbed enough to write this post.
I know suicide is grabbing eyeballs everywhere from print to electronic media. Robin Williams, Chester Bennington, Avicii, 13 Reasons Why? Our own Sunanda Pushkar and Sridevi’s death came attached with conspiracy theories.
Seriously, what are the signs?
I remember the time when a friend who was physically strong, aggressive, a natural leader, casually mentioned how she tried to kill herself. I froze and the moment passed. We never spoke of it again. She’s fine or at least seems when we sometimes chat.
Another friend with whom I was hashing out the Bourdain mystery had this to say as a way of explanation, “Brains with trillions of cells and nano connections, many on autopilot mode, one cannot predict.” Then he goes on to confess that he too has walked down this dark path because he was unable to bear the constant family and professional pressure.
Luckily he was saved. He is now helping others fight similar hopelessness.
His story still made me go cold but brought home the power of connections, conversations, crutches, whatever works.
Coincidentally I’m reading ‘A man called Ove’. The reviews promise me it is a lovely feel good book. Still I can’t help humming the clever ditty, ‘Dumb ways to die‘ every time I put the book down.
Anyway I’m counting on the happy ending- the practical, organised, solid Ove changing his mind and seeing the wonder in this beautiful world.
And Anthony Bourdain, this was not the end I saw for you but I hope you found the peace you were looking for.