What Else Can We Learn from Anthony Bourdain?
We can’t not talk about it.
Bourdain, I mean.
How could he not have known how much we appreciated him?
I’ve heard that a hundred times this past week, and wondered it, myself.
I’ve heard and wondered this too: How could he not have seen, how could he not have understood, the difference that he made to our industry and to so many of us personally?
These are painful, wistful questions that we’ll be considering for quite some time to come, and they’re certainly part of the mourning process.
I’d like to suggest – respectfully and carefully – that these questions also miss a significant point.
By asking how he could not have know how much we appreciated him, we’re implying that it was Anthony Bourdain who overlooked something. By asking how he could not have understood his impact, we’re implying that it was somehow on him to understand what we needed him to understand.
But it wasn’t.
It wasn’t on him.
* * *
Let’s think about this.
What’s it like when we have a friend who’s struggling with depression?
In my experience, it’s chronic. It happens again and again, in cycles. And as many times as I say please (please) give me a call or send me a text or reach out in any way at all, they don’t, or they don’t as often or as soon as I wish they would.
Before I know it, it’s been a week or two that I haven’t heard from them.
That’s a problem. My problem.
How does it get to be “a week or two” before I think about them again? What’s happened, what’s so important, that I haven’t checked in with my friends – who I’ve recognized are struggling – in 10 or 14 days?
That’s when it’s on me.
* * *
Let’s think about another part of this.
What’s it like when we’re struggling, ourselves, with depression?
We tuck in. We curl up, and we curl inward. We cut ourselves off. We don’t want “help.” We just want to be left alone. Alone in that dark, dark place.
Let me be clear: I haven’t struggled with depression to nearly the extent of friends and colleagues I know. Not even close. But I’ve experienced enough of it to relate, and to be compassionate about how dark the darkness of it truly is.
When I’ve come out of the darkness, there was a tipping point. There was one moment when a pinhole of light shone into the dark.
It was when I saw that someone else was struggling with my struggling.
When one person got in front of me and tilted my eyes or my ears to their experience, so that I had to see it and hear it, I’d emerge. Grudgingly at first, but I’d emerge.
For me, the pinhole that punctured the darkness came again and again from one person who exercised compassion.
Here’s the thing: They didn’t let me flounder for 10 or 14 days before they did it.
They made it on them.
* * *
That’s what I’d like to suggest now, as we recover from the tailspin of Anthony Bourdain’s suicide.
That we make it more on us, more often, more quickly and more persistently. Compassion, that is, toward people we work with and especially toward close friends and lovers.
When they tell us to go away, come back.
When they fight to keep us out, fight to stay in.
When they say we wouldn’t understand their struggle, show them our struggle.
It won’t always work and for some people it won’t make a difference. Please try anyway.
I’m not saying that compassion is the solution. But I do think that more of it will help.
PS Remember self-compassion too.
PPS Every post we've seen in the past week has included links and phone numbers to suicide prevention resources, as well as advice on what to do when someone you love is severely depressed. Beck and I have also found The Benevolent to be particularly resonant, as it provides help and support to the drinks industry and their families. It's based in the UK, and relevant to us all.
This Week's Reading, à la Kat Kinsman
Normally this is where we link to wine stories and media mentions that have piqued our interest in the past week. This time we may as well call it the Kat Kinsman Korner.
Chefs with Issues, which Kat founded and runs to support hospitality professionals when dealing with the particular pressures of life, so that we can all feel less alone.
What Kat wrote in response to a very angry comment on her setting up the site. It's essentially the "Here's why we all need a resource like this."
Meet the Tribe!
This week we meet the teacher who has kindly agreed to teach our morning practice tomorrow during Aspen Food & Wine. Check out Let’s Meet Up for details.
Jiva Bhakti Yoga Teacher and Steakhouse 316 Bartender
Years In Industry:
25 years in Food and Beverage
My Biggest Challenge To Wellness:
Biggest challenge to wellness is my busy schedule: trying to eat clean and healthy while always being on the GO.
How I Keep It Together To Stay Well:
I "keep it together" by getting plenty of sleep! In the morning I'll prep my food for the day and pack it up to take with. No excuses to having those late night french fries dipped in mayo (my weakness). I am a big fan of rebounding and stretching in the morning. It takes only 10-15 minutes and leaves me feeling great all day!
Practice yoga with Karen at O2:Aspen – a Yoga, Pilates and Wellness Spa in Aspen, Colorado.
Let's Meet Up!
As work life has it, we are traveling over the next few months and would love to see you. Check out details on the Let's Meet Up! page.
- Aspen Food & Wine, June 15 to June 17 (Rebecca) - Bring your mat and join us Saturday 16th June 8.00am at Koch Park for a morning yoga practice. $10 donation is requested and please email Rebecca if you are interested to join.
- Fine Minds 4 Fine Wines, in Champagne, France, July 5 to 7 (Cathy)
- Wines of Australia event in Lake Tahoe, July 22 to 26 (Cathy)
- TexSOM Conference August 11 to 13 (Rebecca)