Anthony Bourdain


Since the news broke about the suicide of Anthony Bourdain, there has been a bloom of posts, tweets, and articles across the internet. Reflections, reminiscences, and stories told from those who knew him and those who admired him. This will be another—albeit one more personal. I suppose these are what happens when someone’s life touched so many people in so many unexpected ways.

I don’t usually get worked up about celebrity news—I never met Bourdain in person, but I felt like I did. He was something different; open, honest, and unwilling to hide. Bourdain was a masterful storyteller with a raw and unapologetic voice. Reading Kitchen Confidential felt like I was swapping stories with him at a seedy bar in Manhattan. It made me appreciate food and cooking in a way I hadn’t considered.  A Cook’s Tour and No Reservations opened up the world and made me want to travel. Parts Unknown and Medium Raw were continuations of those early lessons.

“As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”

Anthony Bourdain

There was something about Bourdain’s punk-rock unpretentious attitude drew me in as a young man. To many, he came across as abrasive, but below his sarcastic steak was a profoundly earnest and empathetic man who cared about people. He also allowed himself to be ugly. Bourdain made mistakes, he owned up to them, and he didn’t dismiss his past. He showed many of us that it was okay to screw-up, and it was okay to love screw-ups.

I’m going to miss his writing, his authenticity, and his observations on life. I wish his last mistake hadn’t been so permanent. Often, when an author dies we mourn the loss of a voice—and that is true with Bourdain. But his writing remains, his show remains—his voice might be gone, but his life was too loud to go silent.

I’ve seen depression’s impact on more than just celebrities like Anthony Bourdain. I’ve seen it hurt friends, family, and fellow authors. Depression is a wicked beast of a thing. It tricks your mind. It lies to you. If you’re ever thinking of hurting yourself, please remember you’re loved. Seek help. You matter. We need you here. Talk or text a friend or loved one. If you can’t do that and live in the US, call 1-800-273-8255. (You can find international numbers here.)

The Creative Process

I stumbled across this comic from Tom Founder over at Happy Jar. It struck close to home, and got me thinking:

The Happy Jar - The Creative Process

It’s a common occurrence. Often we creatives feel like we’re the only one who goes through this sort of thing. That while our peers see only success, we see only struggle. We forget that in modern society we curate our lives. It’s:

Friend: “How are you doing today?”
Us: “Oh, I’m fine.” *fake smile* “Look at these pictures of my weekend!”

and not:

Friend: “How are you doing today?”
Us: “ACK! Someone gave me a one-star review. I got a rejection letter, and I’m so nervous about this latest manuscript. I think it’s all wrong. I think people will hate my characters. I hate my characters! Their names are all wrong. Maybe I should change them. Ugh. I’m not sure about the plot either. It’s trite, it’s probably like my last book. I bet it’ll get a one-star review as well! I worry that I’m not speaking from the heart. I should change it. I don’t think people will get it, you know? Don’t even get me started on my prose! I’m stuck, I’m scared, and I don’t know what I’m going to do! It’s wrong! IT’S ALL WRONG! AHHHHH!” *Bangs head against the wall like a crazy person.*

Like anyone else, we judge ourselves by our peers. And like the rest of the world, most creatives only share our success and rarely our failure. As a result we’ve become scared of failure. That fear breeds common reactions: self-doubt, depression, and even the self-loathing as shown in panel three. Often, because of those common reactions, creatives just give up.

We should do the exact opposite. Let’s go back and read that again: common reactions? Yes. Common. It happens to everyone! You’re not alone. I’m right there with you. We all deal with this! But these aren’t insurmountable hurdles. These struggles are only permanent if we let them abide.

The only way to really fail is to stop.

The important thing when confronting these barricades is to press past them. We get so close to our work all we see are the mistakes, the errors, and the things we want to change. We no longer see the good, but it’s there. That’s why it’s important to move past these biases, ignore the demons of self-doubt, and get the work out there. Let the world decide. Push yourself and move on to your next project. As I said earlier, so many of us hit that third panel and just… stop. Which is the wrong reaction. You see, the only way to really fail is to stop.

So yeah, as I said, Happy Jar got me thinking. You can see more great (and thought-provoking) comics at It’s updated every Tuesday and Friday. Subscribe to the RSS feed here, or follow HappyJar on Twitter. It’s great stuff and I highly recommend following along.