“If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody.Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.” -Anthony Bourdain
As a teenager, you’re seeking a lot of things. Purpose. Love. Identity. Community.
For this reason, life is almost certainly devoid of constants as you try new things, make mistake after mistake, fumbling through these short years, grasping at something to hold on to.
One of these constants that allowed me to share time with my family (a thing I admittedly tried to do as little of as possible as a teen) was Anthony Bourdain. A graying man on TV, with a way with words and a camera crew, opening my eyes up to something beyond my small island in the middle of the Pacific.
He had a way of saying things that allowed for the reality of a place/culture/community to shine through without the rose-colored glasses, while still finding light in even seemingly the most war-torn places. Because he knew. We’re all humans, trying to find purpose, love, identity, and community.
And if you know anything about him, you know that his medium was food. Chef and author of Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain knew that food was a fantastic lens into culture and was able to use a common love for food to connect to individuals all over the globe.
One of the most memorable episodes of his show No Reservations for me was when he visited Ghana, and ate lightly grilled pig intestines that weren’t cleaned out. While part of the reason that scene stuck with me for so long was the visceral nature of what he ate, it also said a lot about his commitment to experience a people’s culture as they experienced it; to really get in their shoes, share a meal and a drink, and learn how they viewed the world.
He had this to say about my home state of Hawaii: https://explorepartsunknown.com/hawaii/bourdains-take-hawaii/
A beautifully written piece that struck a deep chord with my own experience, and I don’t doubt that he did the same justice for the plethora of other places that he’s visited.
As a recent memoriam by former president Barack Obama put it, “He taught us about food- but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown.”
No Reservations and his later show Parts Unknown were big catalysts in finding my passions for writing and travel. I may not be able to do it on the scale that he did, but to be able to experience cultures, places, and food beyond the bubble that I know and to connect people with words and ideas has been my goal, and my life, for the past couple of years.
I’m sure in the next couple of weeks I’ll go through those episodes I’ve missed, and those that I haven’t seen in a while, and see things I’ve never seen before and be captivated by those long dialogues about place, people, and good food.
‘Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life- and travel- leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks- on your body or on your heart are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.’
I can’t pretend to be an expert on mental health issues, depression, and suicide. I do know that there’s help that you can get, and help that you can give. We don’t really know what each other is going through, so check up on your friends and family and let them know you’re still in their life, rooting for them.
We’re all humans, trying to find purpose, love, identity, and community.
May your soul find peace, Anthony.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
Unsure if you should reach out?