Although Anthony Bourdain didn’t practice yoga he was a true yogi in my mind. I’m not sure he’d like it if I called him that but maybe I can convince you. He’d probably be shaking his head thinking, “Another yogi who thinks they know me.”
I began watching Tony with his No Reservations show back in 2005 on the Travel Channel. The show’s introduction was an image of Tony skidding across the ice towards the viewer at the same time a sound of a guitar and heavy metal voice screaming. “I’m Anthony Bourdain, I write, I travel, I eat and I’m hungry for more. Noooo Reservations.” It was edgy, just like Tony. He allowed viewers to be the voyeur peeking through the window into other countries, foods and listening to his narrative, lyrical descriptions as if he were speaking only to me. I was hooked.
We all know that Tony was an avid carnivore, a lover of meat in any formation. His self-awareness was apparent in every country he visited. In the Mozambique episode, he was acutely aware that he was a perfect metaphor for Africa. The privileged white guy there to observe, commune and eat. In this rural village, he points out that the people wake up at 3 am daily to make do with what is available to them, trading what they catch or what they grow. “What promoters of vegetarianism may not realize, is that much of the world is already living a vegetarian lifestyle and they ain’t too f*ckin happy about it.” Animal protein is a life-giving luxury, caught when available.
Although I’m not a regular red meat eater I do eat animal protein. I am educated on the effects of Global Warming and all the benefits of being vegetarian or vegan. At a bird’s eye view, I am a conscious consumer, who eats animal protein once a day and I’m still reducing my carbon footprint. Any extremism or core fundamentalism which brings judgment upon others is a narrow way to look at the world’s diversity. Being accepting and open to everyone doing what is right for their bodies and respecting the earth is possible. The theme of hunting and consuming the entire animal was not uncommon Tony’s travels and while I’d never want to experience that I accept that for others. Tony explored the earth bringing foreign people and ideas closer to us through culture and food. He could go from eating in a Michelin rated restaurant to sitting in a village on the dirt floor of a hut all the while not judging but observing, accepting and narrating every moment of it. He painted the picture on top of the picture and gave it depth and substance.
Tony lived by very clear truths -
>> I don’t have to agree with you to like you or respect you.
>> Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park, enjoy the ride.
>> Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom…is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.
>> That without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, moribund.
He was no stranger to suffering from a past of drug use and his alcoholism still taunting him upon his passing but he lived his life with truth, conviction all along exploring, developing deep relationships and living to the fullest. Tony lived the example of being limitless. He will remain one of my heroes, an American icon and examples of someone who lived a full life. I will always have some sadness knowing he is no longer walking on this plane and honor his memory by writing about him, reading about him and watching his visual explorations.
Please reach out if you need help. Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1–800–273-TALK (8255).
This article was originally published in Common Ground Magazine in the March/April 2019 issue.