So, have you seen the news? In addition to the thousands that just up and die all the time, someone else went that got a vastly larger share of attention than everyone else who kicked the bucket in that news cycle. But that’s nothing new.
And he was a fine dude. Went through many an experience. Met a whole mess of other people. And told grand stories of the things he lived through. Always an interesting cat, and perhaps now and perhaps too late, I’ll read one of his books. He often spoke of the thrill of being alive on this planet, with so many interesting folks and food and festivals. People admired his sense of adventure and open mind. He inspired countless road trips and globetrotting treks all around this rock. He was quite a man.
And he hung himself. In France. Just a few days ago.
Now if that doesn’t make you ponder, I don’t know what will.
So, dig. It is nice to see all this ‘check on your friends’ going around. Truly, it is. To see if you cannot help share the burden of sadness for someone you care about. To hope they do not make the ultimate Irish exit from the party of human life. And you should. Even the ‘happy ones’, they say. Evidently, they can often be particularly sad.
But you must understand, your life is your own. And I do believe that it is your right to do with such a life as you see fit. Even if that means opting out. A free and profound existence must reach into all the depths of freedom. To all choices, concerning the self. This is not permission to affect others. As it is not your choice to control the thoughts and feeling of that friend you are ‘checking’ on. If you want out, that is on you.
My only hope is that one who does so is certain of their decision. To the best of my knowledge, the choice is rather permanent.
Now, before this slips out of hand, let me clarify- I am not advocating suicide. I am advocating a life lived as the individual sees worthy. Right up until the end, even if that end is of one’s own design. And though the moral argument seems neat enough, the truth is always a bit muddier. As unless you were a total hermit with zero connection to other humans, your death makes an impact. Societally, economically, spiritually and emotionally. Someone has to cover any bills you’ve left behind and most would try and buy a box to pack you in and some sort of ceremony for the folks who come watch as you are tossed back into the dirt. And if anyone did love you before you opt-out, they will keep loving you after you’re gone. And they will suffer for it. I know. I’ve held witness to such suffering. I’ve shaken the hand of a man whose son left this world of his own devices. I watched him go, what seems an age ago. And nothing about any of that scared me more than meeting the father who’d lost his son to sadness.
He was devastated. But he was nothing short of a gentleman. And I hope peace can be his. Someday.
Let’s not make this about death. As dying is a rather finite moment. This is about life. The vast array of possibility that so chaotically and seemingly accidentally exists upon us. Something precious and somehow specific and diverse in ways that our imaginations can hardly keep up with. Oh, and rather fragile. Us soft, squishy beings. Hurtling through space at ludicrous speed. And each one of us is at least as different as we choose to see, which is an insanely powerful tool, for discovery and destruction alike.
So, take a page, even vaguely, from the life of Mr. Bourdain. Worry not of his death. Most of us didn’t really know him anyway.
But we can all apply something of his appreciation of the human experience. His life was his- and yours, your own. And even when similar, they are never the same. And we don’t all have the same chances or opportunities. And some of those chances pass forever.
I shall never backpack through Europe as a young man. The cards dealt otherwise. But some folks in the world drink dirty water, so the perspective has a lovely humbling effect. And I be no glutton nor monster, and I am quite grateful for my lot in life. Even most of my hardships have pressed some diamonds.
Live as best you can, for as long as you can. Fill your heart with joy, for tragedy comes easy. Fill your mind with thoughts, for absence is a waste. And fill your days with experience or effort towards something, for they are numbered. And you don’t get to find out that number until the end.
Take a page from Bourdain, despite anything. He was good at living, while he was doing it.
Perhaps he did too much. But most of us do too little. Some, nothing at all.