Hemingway for a Modern World

 

Yesterday dawned like any other. Check news sources and evaluate the course for the day. Usually, whatever overnight event that may have crept into the daily news cycle is met with a bleary-eyed skim-read or subliminal triage. I read news sources from many sources around the world for obvious reasons. What I was met with on the morning of June 8, 2018 will forever be imprinted upon my soul.

 

The world will have plenty of time to judge, evaluate, and categorize Anthony Bourdain and his work, as history is wont to do. The man, the person is even now being at once celebrated while others look to stigmatize. Ironically, we may never know what may have been the final straw. In true Bourdain voice, do we even give a shit?

 

One is touched by the humanity of Bourdain. His selfless approach to Life defines the essence of the man. We have all been affected by his presence, whether you know so or not. Bourdain is an old soul that will continue to affect future generations. In the culinary world, the journalistic sphere, and most of all, with the wide swath of humanity that knew and met him.

The mainstream media is paying homage to Chef Bourdain since the news of his passing, as is right and needed. The world mourns the loss of a favorite son and again asks why? As smart and intuitive as Anthony was, in his final decision-making, he must have wondered how the world would report or react to his death.

 

I am crying now because we know this was a thoughtful and caring man. One who obviously weighed his choices and decided to go. Possibly one of the most caring and accepting human beings we will ever know to this degree. Bourdain wrote, cooked, spoke, and lived by his heart. It is in just this way that I will remember him. His vitality lives on. It cannot be extinguished, even by his own hand.

 

People that knew Anthony will better discuss his mindset or what may have driven him to make this decision. Calls went out for donations and awareness of depression or suicidal tendencies in the hours since we learned of the tragedy. We here at BTR fully support suicide prevention measures and hope people in crisis will reach out for help.

This said, I think Anthony Bourdain’s situation is a call of another sort. Suicide is not always a “weak” decision or based upon some sort of mental or psychological deficiency or disease. The stigma of suicide needs to be examined. The help-lines that we see at the end of every segment do a disservice to Mr. Bourdain and many like him.

 

The suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain in the same week scream for attention. People are quick to draw conclusions or to compartmentalize issues if they feel no connection. Just another celebrity that can’t deal with their self-created world? What if the opposite was true?

 

These were both extremely wealthy, successful individuals that decided to check out. How is this a supposed weakness or somehow viewed as succumbing to overpowering circumstances? We are taught from an early age to be ourselves. These visionaries became themselves and much more.

Anthony Bourdain was at once a visionary, a rock star, and a flawed individual. As we all are. This man traveled the globe with an unflinching style and grace. Ever curious and ever giving. He was an inspiration and mentor to millions. He remains so. Nothing changes that.

 

Bourdain always struck me as being Heminwayesque in his travails. That thought process may have influenced the final decision. Did Bourdain picture himself as a modern-day Hemingway? If he did, he was fucking right. We may never know. What we will know is a man that was a unifying force the WORLD over, because he chose to be.

The Hemingway comparison brings forth the question. Is one mentally weak or defective if they choose to end their own lives? Leaving the “religious” aspects out of the equation, how is this not seen as self-euthanasia?

CNN host Kate Bolduan tearfully shared on Saturday that she used to tease Anthony with the parting refrain: “Next life, I’m coming back as Anthony Bourdain!”

There will not be another Anthony Bourdain. I am quite sure he knew this and that it factored into the final decision. How do we go on without Anthony Bourdain and how does he go without us?

I guess we will find out together. Over a bowl of something tasty or a cultural experience or perhaps on a beach with a cold beer. I think this is exactly how Anthony would have wanted it. In fact, he made sure this is how we remember him.

 

 

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    Writer, Editor, Advocate for change. Freedom is what we make it. Join the conversation.

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