I wanted his life. I don’t think I’m alone in that. He went places you and I will never go. He ate things you and I will never eat. He met people you and I will never meet. He lived. Anthony Bourdain lived so much that the idea of him dying seems completely preposterous.
And yet here we are. Pick any superlative you want for him. He was, of course, an excellent chef. If you haven’t made his scrambled eggs, do yourself a favor and correct that. He was a wonderful writer and enormously popular public speaker. He presided over what was, in my mind, the best travel show in TV history (No Reservations and Parts Unknown shared a production company, a host, and a logline, so by all means consider them one and the same).
But his greatest accomplishment, of course, was his life itself. I mean, honestly, WHAT A GODDAMN LIFE, MAN! He lived a scant 61 years, but my god, were those years densely packed. Watching him trot around the globe week to week engendered only the warmest of envies. And, in death, Bourdain takes with him a collection of memories and experiences so immeasurable, and so vast, that they dwarf any book or TV episode he leaves behind.
It is that life, more than his work, that millions of people (myself included) seek to emulate: a life that is hungry, thirsty, curious, honest, compassionate, rowdy, horny, all of it. That life has almost certainly inspired the very hipsters that Bourdain himself openly derided, but that’s a pretty minor complaint when you think about it. He was a man of true pleasure—pleasure in food, pleasure in sex, pleasure in friendship, pleasure in love—and wanting that for yourself is a welcome sin.
I cannot know what drove Bourdain to allegedly take his own life. He was a recovering addict. He suffered from bouts of depression. He was heir in spirit to another author, Hunter S. Thompson, who also died by suicide. He spent what was almost certainly an unhealthy amount of time out on the road, alone. But I think I’m gonna go ahead and leave those demons be, because no matter how or why Bourdain died, he embodied, at least on television, the way a person ought to live, a life where fame and avarice take a backseat to the feeding of your very soul.
And I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say the world would be a better place, and can very much be a better place, if everyone followed his lead and took true joy in seeking out and understanding the unknown. That is the greatest and most wondrous indulgence of all. Raise a glass. Cook a pig. Hug a friend. We cannot have Anthony Bourdain’s life, but thanks to him I know damn well that all of us can still have fantastic lives of our own, and that’s no small thing.
This content was originally published here.