“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.” ―
I've always been a huge fan of Anthony Bourdain.
The late, great former chef, storyteller extraordinaire and world traveler left an indelible mark upon my soul. As an author, he weaves words together in a way few others can, painting a vivid picture that is unparalleled. I aspire to be half the writer and explorer he was.
He was also filled with a darkness that came out in his work. From his first book Kitchen Confidential to his later television shows, there are shadows that fed deep within his spirit. In June 2018 he took his own life, devastating a world that loved him dearly. In his disillusion, I'm not certain he realized the depth of this love that was held for him. On the surface, he had it all. A beloved child, a successful career, friends around the world. But the surface can be deceiving and hide wounds beneath the exterior than none can ever truly know.
Recently I traveled to Las Vegas and on the way listened to two of Bourdain's audiobooks, Kitchen Confidential and Medium Raw.
There is nothing better than listening to a good book especially when it is told by such an enigmatic person as Bourdain. Dark, deep and hilariously funny, he is as offensive as he is brilliant. His ability to speak his truth resonates deeply with me. Kitchen Confidential is a tell all on his time in the cooking industry in his 20's and 30's. He exposed the underbelly of the culture and many of the key players of the time. Later in his life he said that if he knew so many people would ready Kitchen Confidential, he might have been more hesitant to write it.
This speaks to me. How many times had my own voice been silenced because I was afraid of who might see my words. What would they think if they read it, I worried. Would it be taken the wrong way?
Anthony Bourdain teaches us even now to honor our truth, say what needs to be said and the ones that are meant to resonate with that truth will always find us. Our job is to tell the story from our point of view. That is our purpose on the planet.
There are so many reasons I love Bourdain. One of the biggest is that I can empathize with the darkness he felt.
Bourdain was extremely intelligent and as such he saw the world for what it was at times, which isn't always wonderful. When you can see the world in truth it can be hard at times to see the beauty. Reality can obscure hope. Disillusion can set in. As we look back on a life lived, on the roads that should have been traveled or what can never be, it can weigh heavily on the soul.
Like him, I also love to travel. I haven't done it as much as I would have liked in the last few years, but when I do get out there I really don't want to come back. I love all of it. The airplanes, the airports, people watching. Wandering around streets seeing the architecture, hearing the sounds, finding the little places that others wouldn't notice.
Bourdain was a deep soul, self aware to a fault, something else I can relate to.
Later in his works Bourdain mentions the regrets he had, about his career and about those he hurt along the way. To what degree they influenced his fate, I don't know. But I know I don't want to have regrets. Not anymore. A life lived safely may be the path society teaches us to follow, but at what cost? The death of the soul, I would surmise. I've felt this squeeze on the spirit, the caging bars of the mundane settling around the self.
In Medium Raw he talked about being 44 and resigning himself to life in the kitchen, that he would never see the great things of this world. No Rome or Paris again for him, his life was here, tied to the stove. Of course soon after he had a book that launched his stardom and a string of wildly successful travel shows that took him all over the world. It's nice to think that even when all hope seems lost even a miracle can happen that changes everything. It brings me some inspiration that even though things sometimes seem set in cement, in the blink of an eye they can expand beyond our wildest imagination.
What Anthony Bourdain taught me about travel, food and life is tremendous. There is something out there calling to each of us. And our purpose, should we choose to accept it, is to follow whatever is calling to the fullest.
For me, I've reached the part in my life where I need to embrace giving myself full permission to do what I want.
This includes not only speaking my truth but wandering around more and experiencing what life has to offer. Journeys offer transformation and a different perspective. And they can shake up the dusty parts of our souls and aid us in seeing the bigger picture. They can inspire us and help us to move towards something that may be missing. We often spend a lifetime playing the rolls that we are thought we must, ignoring what we wish. And then the time comes to expand horizons and it is an offer that we can no longer ignore.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step they say. Or as Bourdain says:
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” ~A. Bourdain
See you on the road, Tony.
PS: After spending so much time listening to Anthony Bourdain, I have realized how painfully boring my food routine has become. I have made a vow to be more adventurous in the kitchen, or at the very least less lazy. I like to think Bourdain would be proud, or at the very least, amused by my efforts to the point where he would shake his head and offer me a sarcastic quip or two.