I remember when I saw Anthony Bourdain do a performance at the Academy of Music. During the questions from the audience portion of the show, someone asked him what his favorite trip to take was. His response was that his favorite trip was walking his daughter to the bus stop each morning. It got the requisite “awws” from the crowd.
I didn’t really think that much about it until a couple years later when he committed suicide. When the story of his suicide broke, we were all trying to make sense of it. How could this possibly happen to him? I started thinking back to his comment about walking his daughter to the bus stop being his favorite trip. If that statement was true, it certainly wasn’t the life he was living. He was doing anything but that. He also was a person who had the means that he could have walked away from the show and simply wrote a couple books and still made millions and lived off his reputation. He didn’t have to continue living the life he was living if he wanted a simple, family life.
It occurs to me that the line he gave at that performance is a bit of a cliché. Everyone who is a parent will have some variation of that story. It’s always how this was the monumental moment that changed their life. Someone else was now the most important being in their life. It can’t be true for all of them. You can get mad at me for saying this but there are too many bad parents in the world for that to be true. I have to wonder was this line from the show how he really felt or was it something he said because it’s how he thought he should feel? Our society does like to force people into roles and positions they may not be meant for.
Maybe he was wracked with guilt because he didn’t feel that way. Maybe he really did love the travel and the adventure more than the family life. We will never know. We can only speculate. But I think part of the problem is that we do try to make people into something they are not. There are people who can be perfectly happy getting married and living that life. Other people are polyamorous or even asexual. There are people that legitimately don’t want kids. Of course, a person isn’t allowed to be single at a certain age or else they must be gay or they must have something wrong with them. Then you end up with people in relationships built on lies. And at the risk of pissing some people off: If you’re too obsessed with someone else’s life, it’s really a reflection of your own unhappiness in your own life.
People buy a lot of shit they don’t really want or need. If I buy one more pair of shoes or if I go to one more concert or ballgame, it will fulfill me. They get into relationships that are toxic or unhappy because they think that’s what they have to do. How many couples do you see that are spiritually dead? They go through the motions. Zombie movies are so popular because we have a lot of walking dead among already. A lot of people see themselves in the zombies.
Ultimately, we have to find happiness within ourselves. If you aren’t happy with yourself, you won’t find happiness with another person or with vast possessions. Bob Marley sang those immortal words of wisdom: “They don’t love themselves so they can’t love anybody else.” We really do need to work on ourselves and learn to love ourselves.