Death of a Traveler

Gone too soon.

It was an early morning for me. I don’t sleep particularly well anyway, so when a news alert went off on my phone around 3 AM, instead of ignoring it, I took a peek. “Anthony Bourdain, dead at 61.”  Dead. It must have been a heart attack. Suicide? What? Why?

This was a gut punch. Here was a guy who I thought had one of the best jobs in the world. He seemed like he outrun his demons and was settling into a nice life. Even though he notoriously hated vegans, I liked Anthony Bourdain. He showed America that the world wasn’t a scary place. He advocated being a “traveler” rather than a tourist. He was like your hard drinking, well-traveled uncle who stops in every once in a while to tell you about what you are missing in the world.

He was dating Asia Argento, the outspoken actor/director/activist who was one of the first women to come forward to accuse Harvey Weinstein of rape.  Bourdain also joined in the fray often using his Twitter and Instagram pages to denounce powerful men. This made me love him even more.

Bourdain was anything but weak. He was a man using his power for good. He went from a junkie chef to an author and emmy-award-winning tv personality. He had a daughter he adored. He had a lot to live for, some might even say more than most.

But that is the sinister thing about depression. When it hits you, and you don’t fight it you can succumb to the darkness. I always liken depression to the Swamps of Sadness in the 1980s film The Never Ending Story. Atreyu’s horse Artek allows the sadness to take over and sinks into the swamp. (Side Note: That scene was a little much for a kid’s film.) But that is depression: you believe that life will always be dark because you can’t find the light. It is twice as bad for people with high-functioning depression because they seem like they are okay. They may be everyone else’s confidant. They have the respect and admiration of their peers, yet they can be monumentally sad.

Bourdain, and Kate Spade and countless other more and less famous folks weren’t able to find the light. But those of us living in the light have a responsibilty to help others when they find themselves trapped in the darkness. Not everyone is going to ask for help, in fact, they most likely won’t.

So be kind today. Listen more than you speak. Take time and care with everyone you meet. Reach out to a friend. And, if you are stuck in the dark, please fight to find the light.

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