FROM AFAR, I ACHED FOR MR. BOURDAIN

My humble take on the recent tragic loss of the admired, beloved and talented Anthony Bourdain.

I thoroughly enjoyed Anthony Bourdain’s fantastic shows.

I was flattered that even though he spent a very short time in my wonderful homeland, he got to appreciate it enough as to proclaim that:

“Puerto Rico is, of course, easy to love.”

When I watched his show, I could not help but wonder how great it would be to have his kind of lifestyle.

Famous and seemingly without a care in the world, getting paid to travel, exploring exotic places and tasting delicious food in remote locations of the earth sounded like the perfect life. Everything — except for occasionally eating live insects — sounded like the most awesome lifestyle anyone could have. He had reached the peak of his career.

In spite of the enticing lifestyle his programs portrayed, I could also perceive he lacked something.

His eyes conveyed a quiet sadness that his occasional smiles could not extinguish.

On camera, he seemed to obliviously consume alcohol.

I wondered why alcohol was omnipresent in all of his shows.

While I enjoy nice wine, beer or an occasional drink while dining, I perceived spirits to be too much of a protagonist in a show primarily geared at the reporting of culinary experiences at the places he visited.

For me, there are meals that are too scrumptious to be spoiled with any other taste. Let alone alcohol.

But that might as well just be me.

When the news came out that Mr. Bourdain suffered from depression, I was not surprised. History is plagued with examples of seemingly happy entertainers that for years battle in silence the monster of depression.

Given the substantial correlation between alcohol consumption and depression, I could not help but wonder how the former had exacerbated Mr. Bourdain’s depressive condition.

For a depressed person, alcohol is a temporary respite from sadness. Hours later, the person that drinks feels many times over more miserable than he or she felt before imbibing.

I will not speculate as to the causes that moved Mr. Bourdain to take his own life.

From afar, and the little I have come to learn about the condition, it is likely that the intake of alcohol did not help him appropriately manage the depression that afflicted him for years.

Although he seemed to live an ‘enviable’ life, it had to be a tough one. Being on the road for an average of 250 days per year cannot be an easy feat for anyone.

His passing gives us a chance to ponder how blessed we are to have friends and family close by that can come to comfort us when we need them most. It makes anyone grateful to be able to stay home and relax, instead of forcefully having to go out and engage in eating and drinking on a regular basis to earn a living. It makes anyone appreciate being able to maintain a healthy diet, regularly exercise and adhere to healthy sleep patterns.

Above all, Mr. Bourdain’s passing is testament as to how fortunate we are to have within our reach most of the time the mechanisms that we need to take care of our bodies/minds/spirits.

The sad turn his life took reminds me of a late 19th century poem by Juan de Dios Peza, Reir Lorando. It was inspired on another entertainer with a tortured soul, David Garrick.

Marga Lacabe carefully translated the poem into English. [1] Its last verses read as follows:

For those who understand Spanish, I hereby share this jewel: a majestic rendering of the poem by Jorge Corona, an Argentinian actor.

Anyone can dream of having the fabulous life that Mr. Bourdain had.

Yet, I am convinced that in order to fight off the adversity and dangers that depression can pose for a person’s life, simplicity beats glamour on any given day.

Sometimes the wise route to take is that of going back to basics. Prioritizing taking care of ourselves so that in the long run, we can continue our passion of spreading joy to others.

May his soul rest in peace.

[1] http://clownalley.blogspot.com/2014/03/reir-llorando-by-juan-de-dios-peza.html

Puerto Rican mother, attorney, warrior & survivor; fighting for equal environmental rights, one pipe at a time”. “Mi nada, a nadie se lo debo.” Julia de Burgos.

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