I never cared about Anthony Bourdain. Not on a daily basis.
Most of the time I walked through this word not sparing the man a single thought. As you do. I watched his shows and I liked them. He could be an arrogant, self serving wanker at times, but he could also be human, raw, funny and, perhaps most importantly, honest. A rare thing on the ol’ idiot box. I admired him, had read his book, Kitchen Confidential and enjoyed it. He had walked through darkness and emerged knowing something. He was a survivor, but more. It had honed him, made him stronger. I liked that in people, like those stories of peoples lives. They were what we hoped to be under similar circumstance.
Now he’s dead.
When I heard he had died, I was nonplussed, assuming that he had died of a heart attack or some related occurrence brought on by his unapologetic and enthusiastic indulgence of alcohol and cigarettes. That’s what happens to people like that, that’s how they go; through the elegance of debauchery and excess.
He had hung himself. There is very little as lonely and sad to me as the thought of someone committing such an act; of knowing that someone faced such horror within themselves that it sustained through the physical, meticulous and laborious act of crafting a noose for oneself. That is a commitment to loathing; that is something most find unimaginable. I’ve stood there, at that point and I know how all consuming that feeling is. It is violent and visceral. There is nothing else but it. It becomes all you are. If you’re lucky, in that moment you can hold on to something, just one solitary line to hold on to which will get you through the darkness into slightly less darkness. For me, it was my son, the one person with whom I could not justify the act. In my self-hating and delusional state, I could not rationalise a reason to continue along any pathway of my life. Except for him. He saved me. My love for him stronger than my hate for myself. Stronger than despair.
I don’t, for a second, think that Anthony Bourdain loved his child any less than I love mine. Don’t believe that any parent that takes their lives loves their children less.
But it terrifies me.
It terrifies me that the despair can sometimes tip the scales; can amount to more than love. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter that someone seems to have everything when they commit such an act; most of us have more than we realise. What matters to us left behind, to those of us who suffer from the same darkness, is how do we protect ourselves? It’s like losing a soldier, one of our best and brightest, marching them out into war, into certain victory and not only seeing them defeated, but seeing them eviscerated; humiliated and defiled and sent back to us in parts. It is crushing and each loss can make it seem harder to go on, as if defeat were a certainty. We carry the weight of those losses, not because we know the individual, but because we know their illness.
I wanted to get to a point, wanted to find some affirmation or positivity to this, to these events when they happen. But I can’t. I’m sorry. Perhaps it’s still a little too raw, perhaps I’m still a little too frightened. But I can’t find a positive spin on this just yet.
I do know this though; if you suffer from that same type of darkness, you know we are afforded very little in the way of luxury. One of those luxuries we don’t have is to walk away from the fight. No matter how many fall, no matter how many stumble along the way, we can’t stop. We can’t quit. We can’t surrender. We are committed to it daily, hourly, with every breath we still choose to take. Whatever your reasoning, whatever anchors you to this world, whatever love you hold to be true, you have made a commitment to that.
Even in darkness.