It took me some time to muster up the energy to write this post following Anthony Bourdain’s death. Usually, I’m not shaken by celebrity deaths – I’m pretty impervious to that. Even when Leonard Cohen (my favorite singer/songwriter ever passed away - I was even supposed to write my Master's Degree on his work), I carried on with my life, unaffected.
But Anthony Bourdain’s death has really hit me hard. Real hard.
His memoir, Kitchen Confidential, completely altered people’s perception of restaurants. Prior to that, we all lived under the illusion that kitchens in fine-dining establishments were as polished, elegant and pristine as the restaurant itself. He lifted the veil on the sex, drug use, the misfits who work in the industry. He exposed the underbelly of the restaurant world. But he did so in a manner that was both wholesome and raw. If anything, Kitchen Confidential revealed what a great storyteller he was.
Afterwards, we got to enjoy his storytelling on TV as he traveled the world, sat down with local people in order to have simple and conversations with them. He understood the visceral link between food and culture, and exposed it well. Sure, the “arts” are important in a culture, but he also showed us how quintessential food is. Each episode of his shows were about much more than just the food itself; he’d dive into the local culture and connected with people across the globe.
Through all of his work in the public eye, the humanity he portrayed and embodied is what transpired. We got to get acquainted with his own demons. We got to witness his redemption. He was a masterful storyteller, but his success story ended up being a fairytale held together by tragic bookends.
A Series of Stratagems
But in the end, the hardest thing for me with Bourdain's suicide is that this following quote of his had been my driving force for quite some time:
I relate to that quote way too much.
Every day, I have to kick myself in the butt in order to be productive. Because deep down, I'd rather just do nothing. When it comes down to The Big in the Small, there is so much to manage… I need to:
- Spend time in the studio to create pictures, timelapses and videos to upload on Instagram and YouTube - a few hours a day.
- Write on this blog as often as possible - even though I haven't been consistent
- Update the Store every time a new photograph gets uploaded to Instagram, and then re-size all photographs I publish in order to fit all social media channels such as Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc.
- Handle every order that goes through the Store and handle customer inquires
- Come up with cost-efficient yet creative ways to put my photographs in a context that is suggestive enough to convey the fact that what I do is not just a cool image on your Instagram feed… it’s also a product you can purchase to display on your wall and embellish your living space!
- Constantly make trips to art and hardware stores to re-up on depleting stocks of materials that go into my creations
- Reach out to many different sources in order to gain extra exposure
- Run research and development in the studio in order to discover new ways to create even better bubbles for you to enjoy!
All of this take up a lot of time. A LOT of time and energy. It’s a mountain of work that keeps me very busy, but deep down inside of me lives a lazy slacker who just wants to lie down on a couch all day and watch TV shows – and I need to fight that lazy slacker’s true form every day. Maybe this does not transpire in my work, since I try to publish new content on a daily basis. But I know I could do better. I know I could do more. I’m constantly wrestling with my desire to do nothing.
The conflict in me is so strong that, last year, I dedicated a full series to it. Entitled Small Storms, it dealt with my struggle with laziness and inaction! That’s what the name Small Storms meant to embody; personal struggles that might not be apparent to anyone, but inhabit the person who is stuck fighting those fights.
Take this piece, “Sometimes, I Wish I Were a Hurricane” – which clearly addresses the fact that I wish I were stronger. A hurricane can destroy everything in its wake - while I'm stuck trying to fight the urge to lie down on my couch and do nothing!
Or this piece, “At War With Gravity” which addresses the ongoing fight between doing something productive versus being defeated by Gravity - aka the desire to stay in bed all day.
Clearly, it's a struggle we shared.
"There's a guy inside me who wants to lay in bed, smoke weed all day and watch cartoons & old movies. My whole life is a series of stratagems to avoid & outwit that guy."
Knowing that someone as successful as Anthony Bourdain struggled with similar issues made that quote much more relevant. But now that he chose death over life, I’m not sure if it will still have the same effect on me. I’m not sure if the lazy slacker in him won and he was all out of stratagems, and I’m not sure of the effect it will have on the lazy slacker in me.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to abandon my own stratagems that help me stay productive, and go back to binge watching No Reservations and Parts Unknown.