Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown

Envy is something deeply embedded in the human condition. It comes from the kinds of minds evolution endowed us with. Alone among animals, we are able to contemplate hypotheticals — “what ifs” — and imagine non-existent things. We are also capable of modeling, in our minds, what goes on in other minds, and to project ourselves into them. It’s great for helping us negotiate life among other people. But it also creates the substrate for feelings of envy.

I make it a principle in my own life to envy no one; and when other (good) people enjoy successes, to be glad for them. It’s actually easy for me, because I’m very lucky to have a great life. When someone else has something I might wish for, I remind myself that other parts of their life I’d feel differently about. Would I trade mine for theirs? The answer is always no.

Then there was Anthony Bourdain.

Appropriately enough, we only ever caught his show, “Parts Unknown,” while traveling ourselves; in hotel rooms we’d turn on CNN, and there was always Anthony Bourdain. Now here was a guy who really seemed to be having a great life. If I had to switch with anyone, what better candidate? Tall, handsome, going on cool adventures in exotic places. The food was fantastic! And the human connections were integral; Anthony Bourdain brought people together and made the world more intimate. For doing all this, he got paid handsomely! And had a beautiful girlfriend besides.

Then he hanged himself.

His show’s title, “Parts Unknown,” may have had a double meaning — with parts of Anthony Bourdain himself unknown to viewers. What we didn’t see on TV was his history of out of control alcohol and drug use; and he was broken up over a past marital break-up. Anthony Bourdain shows us that a human life has many sides; the human heart and soul are very deep.

Envy no one.

3 Responses to “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown”

  1. Joseph Sermarini Says:

    I too thought he had a great life. I certainly had a bit of envy. You are right, still, I wish I could have my envy back.

  2. K Daley Says:

    Excellent article, very well written and too the point!

  3. Mark V Says:

    Also see “Richard Cory,” poem by E. A. Robinson, 1897.

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