I have been binge-watching Bourdain’s Parts Unknown since he made the decision to take his life into his own hands and exit into that vast mysterious unknown place. There is something about his eyes. They draw me in as though calling me to enter, to look for something beyond appearances and into those tiny-grand spaces where the haunting happened. Many people are haunted. Some survive while others succumb, and often the line separating the two are blurred; and we can’t be certain that the line is one of separation or of connecting unless we have been there and done that. Even then we leave behind only questions. The answers, like shadows, travel with us into that place only those who cross over come to know.
For years, many have been touched and deeply affected by Bourdain. He opened doors to worlds that for most will only be traveled through the screens of our televisions or laptops. His fierce freedom such a contrast to what had to have held him tightly, clutched the way we hold on when we are afraid to let go. Sometimes the panic wins. Sometimes the relentless nature of one’s existence overtakes joy and the laughter they’ve shared with strangers from places so foreign most never knew they actually existed. Madagascar is more than a movie.
Suicide is a reminder that, no matter what is taking place externally, life is also happening on the inside. Those who are haunted by something, be it trauma, a sense of hopelessness or mental illness that has gone too far over there, are often left to the quiet noise of themselves where exposing such vulnerability and pain doesn’t take root. Those left wish for a chance to help; they wish they had known, yet how many have ears to hear without judgment or a value-system intervention? Facts are ill-equipped to tear down the wall that leads to the place where the haunting happens. Something more is needed, and I believe that something more is a bit closer to healing and hope, which arrive like a blank canvas with an ear to hear beyond what is being said, and with eyes that see more deeply into the soul. In order to learn more, we must be willing to enter into that place and sit with another’s haunting.
Bourdain has inspired me. Looking at his unimaginable journey of travel and food and cultural connections and danger and pain and uncertainty, and life, offers me something akin to live now, and live fully. Inside this one life that we get, let us dare to find our footing so that we are able to find our freedom. When we find our footing, it means we’ve released some things, opened the door and let the haunting leave, and that we are willing to step into a new day of new beginnings, again and again.
Read more about the man behind the much: Anthony Bourdain
*I am not the owner of this image.