It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, and for the most part I haven’t had much to say. I took a small break from working on health and fitness, and have been busy enjoying other aspects of life instead. But earlier today I found myself listening to The Beatles, reading through the myriad of insanity that makes up social media and found a gem in the rough. There was what the casual reader would consider “yet another” article on the late Anthony Bourdain, a man who for a long time, to me, was a hero to look up to; he transformed his life by speaking what was on his mind about his chosen profession (one that I once shared), and that ultimately led to the most interesting life of travel and food that anyone could imagine. This article brought a tear, and then many more, because it touched on several elements to the man that people don’t see when watching him on television. He said things that showed how he truly was sad and longed for meaning and connection, screaming out that life demanded little but love and friendship and the occasional well-made drink. And at the end of whatever strange place he had visited, he would reminisce about new friends that he had made after sharing something that to him was intimate; a meal or drink accented with fun and laughter. That’s something that resonated with me.
After finding the need to swipe away the liquids pouring from my eyes while reading quietly from the audience at my son’s karate practice, I decided that the evening would require some alcohol and a viewing of my favorite show hosted by the late Bourdain, “Parts Unknown”. It was at the end of his visit to Myanmar that he said it, what really hit home and made that connection that I had originally missed: “We can go home, our lives will go on” when talking about government oppression and the fear that some residents of the country had about speaking on camera to the film crew. And this wasn’t the first time he had made that realization, having been witness to the war that broke out in Lebanon in 2006 which forever changed him.
Those words, that sentiment; it’s what truly spoke to the soul of the man. It was more than just travel or food, and said the sadness aloud that ultimately led to what transpired in early June of this year. It’s something that is felt by first responders, soldiers, war correspondents, hospital staff, and many other professionals around the world that see first-hand what happens in the worst of times, even if they also get a glimpse of the best of times mixed in. It’s what they have to leave behind, knowing that it was often devastating and traumatic to those that experienced it. That trauma happens to parents struggling through abuse-driven divorce, children that grow up in the shadow of bullies, and anyone that’s made to fear who they really are. And though the damage affects everyone differently, no person can leave the situation untouched.
At the end of the day, there are so many souls that are torn apart by what they’ve seen and experienced, having a front row seat to the carnage that is human existence. Many of whom have to put on a show to provide comfort to their own families and friends, or to the rest of the world whether they want to or not. But sometimes, under the worst of circumstances, they lose the battle and give in to what many others may endure silently. Their light is extinguished with the harsh label that many perceive as weakness, despite how hard they fought to prevent it. After that event, a common question is “why when they had so much to live for”, but not enough people are asking why these troubled souls had so much that they felt the need to die for. It’s a question that should be asked well before the “right” time to ask it, and it’s on all of us to do so.
Be alert, be a friend, be there
I’ve had friends that felt the need to move on, and some that still do but have managed to find just enough good to outlast the growing evil. But not everyone finds that on their own. Reach out to your people, anyone that may have once struggled, or could be now struggling, with their demons or wrestling with the idea that somehow things could be better if they so simply acted rather than sat silently in pain, in the darkness. And while it took far too many words to get to the point that we all need to help each other, sometimes it takes too many words to say what just a few can do; perhaps we should all lead with “I am here”.