Reflections on the Passing of Anthony Bourdain

I don’t feel envious of many people, but I was definitely a little envious of Anthony Bourdain.

I remember thinking every time I watched one of his shows, “now that guy has the greatest job on the planet.” Traveling around the world to its most beautiful and exotic places, connecting with its best chefs, eating its best food. Meeting many of its most interesting people. And then crafting fantastic and creative narratives around those experiences. His shows were brilliant.

Who wouldn’t have traded places with Anthony Bourdain?

All the epicurean delights this planet has to offer. Status. Success. Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. Eudaimonia. PERMA. By what seemed like every external measure of what a person could want, he had it.

Turns out, it wasn’t enough.

I cannot pretend to know his thoughts or his inner demons. But I think it’s safe to say, that at least for him, having one of the best jobs, and one of the most interesting lives, of any person on the history of this planet: It wasn’t enough. But if that life wasn’t enough, what could be?

The answer, sadly, is almost certainly nothing.

There is no thing that will ever satisfy you.

Nothing will ever be enough. There is no thing after which you get that thing that life’s problems will then go away. We just weren’t designed to be happy. We were designed to feel perpetual dissatisfaction and to think what we need and want more. When we see the Instragram photo, Facebook post, or celebrity snapshot of what seems to be a better or more glamorous life than our own, we’ll never know what deep suffering or sadness may be lurking beneath it.

So if I take away one thing from what I believe to be a great man’s passing, it is this: Try not to worry about what you think you want. Let go of the pursuit of the things that are supposed to be the things that will make you happy. They will never be enough.

Who knows if that sentiment could have saved Anthony Bourdain? Probably not. He was well traveled enough where he had likely heard something like that before. We will never know if anything could have saved him.

But what I take from his passing is that all the wonderful things this life has to offer will not be enough to save you, if you are not already at peace with this life.