"He was an ambassador of the Soul"
It's true. My husband Mike hit the nail on the head when the tragic news of Anthony Bourdain ending his life flooded our social media feed.
Like many folks, Mike and I became fans of Anthony Bourdain during his "No Reservation" days - loving his raw, honest, sometimes rough (always tell-it-like-it-is), completely heart-connecting way of being. He opened our eyes to different cultures, he made us excited about the potential to follow his footsteps in our future travels, spotlighting completely pedestrian yet delicious diamond-in-the-rough places to eat. Screw the reviews from hoity toity know-it-all food critics, if the meal was delicious, that's all that mattered. Whether it be from street carts to a hut in the middle of the Amazon, dumpling houses to finding out what your neighbor is REALLY GOOD at making, connection was Bourdain's mission and food was his love language.
Observing the outpouring of love for this tower of a human being after his passing made me realize something pretty huge and profound about his purpose. He made each and every one of us feel like his friend, like we were the only ones getting in on these secret, divey, hole in the wall eateries all over the world. He opened our eyes to the politics, misgivings and misrepresentations of so many different cultures - and the way he showed us through his gift of revealing and honest conversation made us feel like we had a seat at the table or around the campfire; We were his personally invited company to each of his adventures. He asked the hard questions and because of his incredible deep listening skills, curiosity and open heart, humanity was revealed in every individual he was breaking bread with.
I don't think I will ever forget his recent venture to West Virginia for CNN's "Parts Unknown" that literally left me in tears. With judgements that I didn't even realize I had, until he unveiled his own and I saw my reflection in him, to witness the duality of this extremely open-hearted culture of kind human beings with staunch beliefs that would normally make the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up; Again, the conversations, the connection, his willingness to hear their perspectives and to share why his and my progressive world can't stomach them, was an art. When he asked why this previously very democratic state voted red for the most "city-slicker, anti working-man, 3x married president," they earnestly answered: because they didn't feel heard in the plight of coal-mining. They were told by the left that their jobs would be lost when most don't have anything but 7 generations of coal-mining history behind them with no higher education. Alternately, Bourdain ingeniously then asked, "Would you tell your kids to work in the mines?" and the response was a collective "NO" - he looked for the gap, so we could see the gap. The understanding and humanity was felt. These are good people who see the argument of the environmental problem with coal-mining but don't feel like they have any other way to turn, so with every last penny earned they will send their kids to college with the pride of a black-smudged dime.
This was the Bourdain we knew, the feeling we held for him when we brought him up over dinner with friends. His heart extending beyond himself to others, to have empathy, to see, feel and make US feel, that we are all one - in search of a delicious soul-hugging meal. As I was reminded by his dear friend Helen Rosner in her beautifully written tribute in the New Yorker, Bourdain was effortlessly honest with his audience about the shadows of his depression as well.
In a 2016 episode of “Parts Unknown,” set in Buenos Aires, he held an on-camera therapy session. “I will find myself in an airport, for instance, and I’ll order an airport hamburger,” he says, lying on a leather couch. “It’s an insignificant thing, it’s a small thing, it’s a hamburger, but it’s not a good one. Suddenly, I look at the hamburger and I find myself in a spiral of depression that can last for days.”
I know what the beginning of this spiral feels like, as I'm sure you do. That triggering thought or that triggering experience that begins the thoughts that lead you to your habitual thinking that feels 6 feet deep. I don't care if you're experiencing depression for the first time, if you feel like you just deal with 'low days,' or if you find yourself under so many layers of chaotic thinking that you can't even remember how to breathe - any whirlwind in your mind that leads you to feel like the ground is literally no longer beneath you and that your inner compass won't stop spinning, can make you feel lost in the most profound of ways, I've been there.
To this day I can feel the flutter of those triggering thoughts arise, like when you feel like you're about to hiccup... Before I actually have the thought that can send me down a spiral or into a storm, I sense it first... like the hiccup. This is the energy of Thought - this is the gift of Thought - this is the principle of Thought - this is where the power of understanding Thought can change your life. When I read the news about Bourdain, I literally yelled "NO!" out loud, before fact checking the internet. I couldn't believe what I was reading. As soon as I saw that his death was confirmed, I was thrown into a complete and utter sadness that overwhelmed me for the rest of the day. Why? Because I wish I was there to speak with him, I wish he knew what I know.
What do we always say about people who are, or have considered, ending their life? They have suicidal thoughts... read that again... they have suicidal thoughts. As a culture, we are innocently calling out the issue without recognizing that the answer is right in front of us. The energy of Thought is transitory, it doesn't EVER stop, and the quality of our thinking goes up and down all day, every day. We, as humans, have the gift of turning that formless energy (that feeling that I sense when my depressive thoughts are on the horizon like the feeling of a hiccup), into FORM (pictures in our mind). It is literally the superpower of our personal thinking minds - WE are the thinkers, WE create those pictures. Imagine stepping outside and feeling a beautiful breeze surrounding you, and you reach out to grab the breeze then open your palm to reveal sand - like magic, you grabbed the formless but energetic air and turned it into something. That is what we do as thinkers. We take the energy of Thought and turn into the form of pictures in our mind.
By way of the principle of Consciousness (awareness), these pictures become VERY REAL to us because our feelings come from our thinking 100% OF THE TIME - no exception. It doesn't matter what your circumstances outside of you are, you are feeling your thinking every moment of every day. You are creating your outside reality by way of your inside thinking, and being aware of this, is the gift of Consciousness. So as you can imagine when you are in the middle of a thought storm, with so many thoughts that you can't even keep up with how fast they're firing in your mind, you feel like you can't breathe, you feel like you're not worthy, you feel like the love you receive from others isn't real, you feel like the world is closing in on you - that is your body telling you that you are believing your thinking that ISN'T REAL. It isn't true for you. Plain and simple. And when we are honoring ourselves, when we have the understanding that our thinking can be taken less seriously when it makes us feel like shit - those moments where we think we can't take it anymore and need to do something about it, we know we have the choice to sit it out. We choose to call a friend, a partner, a loved one, knowing that this current reality is not permanent. It will pass. Because it is an energy that is constantly shifting and will most definitely autocorrect to a neutral and peaceful state, with time. Or rather, the moment you choose to live a different reality.
I understand if this seems like I've over-simplified a state of being that seems much more complex - but it isn't. The difference between you being in a low mood this morning and naturally being lifted out of it versus Anthony Bourdain is the layers and layers of thinking that is being believed so that it doesn't feel like there's a way out. Spiritually, the more shitty thinking that is believed, the more habitual it is (and this can go on for YEARS), the emptier the self-love cup. When we've believed lies that we tell ourselves in our own little reality, we find evidence in our life to support it, then we feel justified in our thinking and our light shines a little less than it did before. And the smaller we feel, the lower our mood, the more we believe our thinking, the more we can't pull ourselves out if it. But it all starts with the above understanding. Simple but not easy sometimes, and I understand. I've been there. I haven't been to the end of my rope, but I've experienced the dizzyness that begins to make you feel like you're crazy and you can't cope. There is ALWAYS a voice inside that will tell you what to do instead, telling you what you need to come back to a peaceful place - this is your wisdom. It is with you all of the time. But it's like a quiet flute being played behind the band of the shitty thinking, and the band needs to be turned down to hear it.
The nature of energy is to flow. That's all Thought is. So maybe it'll take you talking out loud to your shitty thinking and saying "Oh, hello again," to put distance between you and the pictures. But having this understanding will at least give you the opportunity to see that you always have the freedom to choose your next thought; The freedom to choose your next action. You're not at will of the freeloading thought turds that are floating in the beautiful abyss that is your mind. Knowing that you have the power to create your own reality through the lens of whatever thinking you're believing at any moment in time, allows the triggering, depressive thinking to melt away. And just this awareness in itself will begin to shift your thinking, which shifts your feelings, which shifts your behaviors. It's an amazing experience.
When Bourdain passed, all of this information was swirling around my mind. I was desperate to write a post for social media, but I couldn't think of a way to concisely share my tribute along with my outrage for how many lives could be saved by knowing a simple understanding. If you're reading this and you've considered ending your life or still consider doing so now - please know that you have a purpose that is meant to be shared, and if you don't feel that right now, it's because the noise in your head is too loud to hear it. But it's there. It may take time to quiet the band upstairs, but like anything worth doing, the reward on the other side is living your life in your truest form while being able to help others understand themselves like you have learned from your own battle.
In closing, astronaut Scott Kelly's tribute to Bourdain took the words right out of my mouth...
"... I watched his show when I was in space. It made me feel more connected to the planet, it's people and cultures and made my time there more palatable. He inspired me to see the world up close."
Tony, thank you for conquering your battles as often as you did. Thank you for not allowing them to keep you from us, because what brings me peace is knowing that you knew on some gut level that you were touching lives and changing them for the better. How lucky are we that you won that battle as long as you did. I always had a feeling I'd meet you one day and give you the biggest hug as appreciation for all that you taught me...
Until we meet again...
All my love and see you next week~