Growing up under the shadow of people who would constantly twist the truth had a large impact on how I see and value the world. When I was a kid it didn’t bother me, especially when I started using it myself as a way to shift any narrative into my favor. However, there were many moments when that age old “cry wolf” phrase bit me in the ass, and as I got older I realized how valuable truth really was.
Aside from experience alone, people are what shape who we are and how we act. Even something as trivial as a contagious laugh from a co-worker has creeped it’s way into my programming. We look at people around us and wonder how we can be just like them, or how we can do whatever it takes to avoid following in their footsteps. There are even people who have such a large impact on what you do and who you are, that you don’t even realize it until they’re gone.
While several individuals have fallen into that category for me personally, I’m going to keep this focused on Anthony Bourdain. The news of his death crossed my Twitter feed this morning, and while I didn’t shed any tears, I did feel an immense depth of sorrow for his loss. That’s when it dawned on me just how much of an impact he had on who I am, and how important it is for me to piece these thoughts out on paper so to speak. Rather, a blog post on my website.
Somewhere around a decade ago I started watching all the shows Bourdain was involved in. His travels around the world tasting food that would make some cringe and others cry was amongst the greatest joys I had during my time off from work and music making. You would think his talents in the kitchen would be enough to inspire a wannabe chef such as myself, but there was so much more to his madness that made its way into my methods.
He spoke with a truth that I never heard anyone else communicate with before. As I mentioned earlier, a childhood spent growing up around so many lies made me weary of even the most honest intentions later in life. A legitimate light bulb moment came when I started diving head first into Anthony Bourdain’s words. His stories, his opinions, his witty comments, all of it came from a place of genuine honesty.
It wasn’t your typical brand of honesty though, it was what I would call a dirty truth. There’s nothing worse than hearing someone spew their version of the truth in such a way that it comes off as disingenuous dialogue hiding under a cloak of vitriol. Bourdain was the antithesis of this behavior, and spoke with a furious passion towards whatever it was that drew his attention. Whether it was calling out phony TV chefs for lacking authenticity, or even just sharing his own stories of shame, setbacks, and triumph over misfortune, he always did it with absolute honesty.
His words were genuine, which in turn gave credence to his perspective. Truth can hurt sometimes, and it can feel really good, but whatever way you present the truth it should never be polished and wrapped up in a bow. People will come to value you more if you are always real with them, even if it’s not what they want to hear. At least that’s what I ended up taking from Bourdain’s perspective after all these years.
This is exactly why the people who change the world for the better are so well remembered. It’s not directly because of their talents or actions, but rather just who they are down to the very core as a human being. Anthony Bourdain was as close to the real deal as one could hope to strive for in their own life. While he wasn’t without his demons, as all of us never are, his legacy is one immersed with honesty and passion.
I never knew him personally, but throughout his career he always made his story about the world around him rather than the world within him. He loved his audience, and his audience loved him in return. The world may have lost another great talent, but it gained another gifted legacy that will outlive us all. A legacy that will continue to inspire our culture with the same sincere integrity that he gave us throughout his life.