“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.”–Anthony Bourdain
I woke up this morning like so many others – in utter disbelief as I scanned the headlines on my iPhone. “No!” Not again. But this one inspired me. Even changed my life. Anthony Bourdain convinced me that breaking out of my own world to experience the world of others is essential to living. That opening my heart and mind to people who look, speak and act nothing like me could help me better understand myself. Thank you, Anthony Bourdain for everything you’ve given me.
If you didn’t know or watch Anthony Bourdain, you probably have a tough time relating to the overwhelming amount of media coverage since his death. But the truth is – Anthony Bourdain was so much in one human. He was a trailblazer. He connected people. He broke down barriers. He reinforced the fact that food is the greatest of all equalizers. He was the ultimate champion of travel, bridging gaps between cultures and countries with differences so vast it seemed unimaginable to see eye to eye. Libya. Congo. Iran. He jetted to all corners of the world and immersed himself in each place. He held nothing back. He was fearless, funny, honest and outspoken on the journey. His lens was crisp and clear and he allowed others to peer through it.
Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown taught me about the world. His travels inspired mine, and because of his adventures, I added cities and countries to my travel list, places that even two years ago, I wouldn’t have considered visiting. His approach to travel and food made me want more and never stop wanting more. He had a way of connecting with us, his audience, as deeply as he could connect to the natives and locals he’d film with in each destination. Borneo. Colombia. Sri Lanka. Queens, NY, Oman.
He influenced me and probably millions of others, leaving us each week with something new to think about, words that would shape us, and unknowingly become a famous Bourdain quote. Truth be told, Anthony Bourdain was one of the most influential people of our time. Through his writings and adventures, he indirectly persuaded others to step beyond the norm, the comfort, the known, and reach for the unknown. Be uncomfortable. Be unsure. Be curious. It’s okay.
But the curtain has closed. Season 11 of Parts Unknown has three more episodes, after which there will be no more pork belly, noodle slurping, or addictive, raw storytelling in the way that only he could do. I can watch every show a second and third time and catch those one or two I missed. I’ll probably check out my favorites again and again, too many times to count: Buenos Aires, Jerusalem, Beirut, Lyon, Istanbul, San Sebastian. All places that because of him I want to travel to.
But that voice. It’s a fix for me. I need to hear it. I can’t imagine my life without listening to that voice and his weighty, wise words. Thank you, Anthony Bourdain. You were a teacher. A mentor. A risk taker. And though I never met you in person, you feel like a friend. Someone I’d hang out with. Travel with. Eat with. Laugh with. Until our paths cross again…
“I should’ve died in my 20s. I became successful in my 40s. I became a dad in my 50s. I feel like I’ve stolen a car — a really nice car — and I keep looking in the rearview mirror for flashing lights. But there’s been nothing yet.”–Anthony Bourdain